First state to bring them on disabled list
UTTAR PRADESH may well become the first state in the country to bring people afflicted with Alzheimer’s, schizophrenia, dementia and other mental illnesses under the disability category. Strangely, mental illnesses that tantamount to disability are already covered under the Disability Act but no state has gone ahead and implemented the same.
Now, the Department of Handicapped Welfare, UP, has initiated a process to bring the mentally ill under the category so that they too may get benefits as given to the physically or mentally handicapped. Those who fall in this category will get all the benefits that a disabled person gets, except jobs in government departments.
“We have asked the State Mental Health Authority to develop a system for the same,” said secretary, Department of Handicapped Welfare Rohit Nandan.
“Mental illnesses are of two kinds — episodal, which is temporary and goes away on its own or by counselling and treatment, and permanent. It is those patients whose mental illness is permanent and leads to loss of normal function (that is disability of over 40 per cent) who would be taken under disability welfare,” said Nandan.
“For a physically disabled person there is a system of assessment of disability in place, while for the mentally retarded IQ test serves as a system of assessment.
But for the mentally ill, there is none. So we at the Indian Psychiatry Society thought about it and set up a task force to develop an instrument to assess percentage of disability of a mentally ill person. And it came in the form of IDEAS—Indian Disability Evaluation and Assessment Schedule for Mental Patients. The Government of India accepted it. Now the State Mental Health Authority too has adopted it,” said Dr SC Tiwari, KGMU professor in Neuropsychiatry and secretary of the State Mental Health Authority.
“A system has now been put in place where CMOs, if they do not have government psychiatrist in there district, can hire one from the private sector for the assessment of such cases,” said Dr Tiwari.
“We will take some time to take a final decision on issuing certificates to such people. But within next six months or at the most a year, we will start issuing Disability Certificates to them. We are slightly slow as we want to evolve a system to check misuse of the benefit, which could have serious civil implications. A mentally ill person under this would get disfranchised from all rights like—right to property, or voting etc,” said Nandan.