Parliament passes Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016; decriminalises suicide

Nadda said that the bill seeks to protect the dignity of the patients, while giving thrust to the community health care system.

Published: 27th March 2017 08:43 PM  |   Last Updated: 28th March 2017 08:30 AM   |  A+A-

The minister, while making a distinction with the 1987 law, said the previous arrangements sought institutionalised intervention, while now the focus is on community intervention.

By Express News Service

NEW DELHI: Union Minister for Health and Family Welfares J P Nadda on Monday assured the Lok Sabha that the National Institute for Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) will be promoted as a mentor for more such institutions across the country on the lines of the expansion of the All India Institute of Medical Sciences (AIIMS).

The Lok Sabha passed the Mental Healthcare Bill, 2016 which has already been passed by the Rajya Sabha.

Responding to the concerns of the members of lack of trained health care professionals to treat patients of mental illness, Nadda, while replying to two days long discussions, said that the government would replicate the expansion of model of the AIIMS with NIMHANS, Bengaluru, as the mentor for such institutions in various parts of the country.

The bill seeks to decriminalise attempts to suicide to help patients suffering from mental illness to access treatment without fear. The bill also empowers patients to give future directions on line of treatment he would like to avail in case of suffering from any mental ailments.

The bill has also comprehensively defined mental illness, said Nadda, who added that the legislative proposal would also safeguard the property rights of the patients.

Nadda said that the bill seeks to protect the dignity of the patients, while giving thrust to the community health care system. The minister, while making a distinction with the 1987 law, said the previous arrangements sought institutionalised intervention, while now the focus is on community intervention. The bill was supported by the members cutting across party lines, who, while hailing it, said that the government has brought a very robust legislative proposal by incorporating suggestions of all the stakeholders. 

The bill has defined mental illness as “a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behaviour, capacity to recognise reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life”.

The Lok Sabha passed the bill, while scores of amendments moved by the Opposition members were rejected by the House. 

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