Mental Healthcare Act 2017

• The Health Ministry has notified the Mental Healthcare Act 2017, which was passed almost a year ago in the parliament.

• Some of the new legislation’s provisions are banning of electric shock therapy for children with mental illness. In the case of adults with mental illness, the law only allows the controversial therapy to be used after the administration of anesthesia and muscle relaxants.

• The new law also allows people to plan and give directions on the kind of treatment they would want if they are diagnosed with a mental illness.

• The legislation describes mental illness as “a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life, mental condition associated with the abuse of alcohol and drugs…”

Significance

• The Act aims to provide healthcare, treatment and rehabilitation for patients and ensure they are provided in the least restrictive environment possible, and in a manner that does not violate their rights and dignity.

• A very important factor of the Bill is that it separates attempt to suicide from the Indian Penal Code. Now IPC provisions cannot be invoked in case of an attempt to suicide.

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