Rajya Sabha passes ‘patient-centric’ Mental Health Care Bill 2013
The Rajya Sabha on Monday unanimously passed the Mental Health Care Bill 2013, which seeks to provide better healthcare to people with mental illness and safeguard their rights.
The bill gives one the right to select a representative, who will design the mode of treatment according to which the person will be treated if he/she gets diagnosed with a mental illness.
“This person would be a nominative representative, who has a similar cultural background as the patient and is aware of his likes and dislikes,” said Union health minister JP Nadda, while introducing the bill.
The minister said the new bill was formulated with an aim of prioritising the interests of the patients.
“The earlier act focused on regulations but this new bill is patient-centric and after wide consultations we have ensured patient’s interests are safeguarded,” he said. Among its various objectives, the bill aims to ensure that the treatment and rehabilitation of people with mental illness is carried out “in a manner that does not intrude on their rights and dignity”.
The bill also bans the use of electric shock therapy for treating children with mental illness and only permits its use on adults after they have been given anaesthesia and muscle relaxants.
An estimated 6-7% of country’s population suffered from some form of mental illness with 1-2% having an acute condition. Various stakeholders including academia, experts and political establishment were consulted while formulating the Bill, which focuses on community based treatment.