The Punjab and Haryana high court has directed district and sessions judge Amritsar to inspect the mental health hospital at Amritsar so as to submit the factual report about the inadequate facilities highlighted by the amicus curiae (advocate appointed to assist the court) in an ongoing case.
Punjab has around 68,000 persons who suffer from mental disorder (as per 2001 census). Whereas as per the survey of National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) in Bangalore, approximately seven crore of the total population in India is suffering from mental disorders out of which two crore are very serious. However, India has only 40 institutes that are equipped to treat patients suffering from mental disorders.
A non-governmental organisation, Prabh Asra, situated in Kurali, Roopnagar, had moved a representation to the high court that was treated as public interest litigation. The petitioner had sought implementation of Mental Health Act, 1987, and to provide basic health care and shelter facilities to destitute who are mentally challenged, mentally ill and mentally retarded.
Amicus Curiae Jaishree Thakur informed the court on Tuesday that there was no provision of emergency mental health care and most of the private and general hospitals refuse to attend to mentally ill persons. Many helpless families request for emergency ambulance services and nearest police station to escort a violent patient to phychiatric hospital but unfortunaltely these request are ignored as there are no guidelines for crisis intervention to help these families.
Thakur suggested that more halfway homes were needed for the mentally ill persons in Punjab and it should be ensured that an unaccompanied/abandoned person is not denied medical attention for want of a guardian to admit him/her. She also suggested for a dedicated helpline for such persons and to ensure that no ambulance declines to take such patient to hospital.
It was also suggested that the parents should be allowed to meet their children within the hospital premises as mental hospital at Amritsar does not permit this. She also requested the court to appoint a local commissioner to visit the mental hospital, Amritsar, and give report about the cleanliness and facilities available there.
The case would now come up for hearing on December 4.