The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) Wednesday said that all 46 Government Mental Healthcare Institutions across the country are in deplorable conditions and depict very pathetic handling by the different stakeholders.
“The inhuman and deplorable conditions of the mental health institutes recorded by it across the country present sorry states of affairs amounting to infringement of the human rights of mentally ill patients. The cured patients are being kept illegally in the hospitals. There is acute shortage of doctors and staff,” read a press release of the human rights body.
The Commission’s observations have come on the basis of the visits of the Full Commission to the four government hospitals in Gwalior, Agra, Ranchi, and the remaining 42 by its Special Rapporteurs in various parts of the country recently to assess the situation on the ground and the status of the implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
The reports of the visits have prompted it to take suo motu cognizance of the matter, and issue notices to the Union Health & Family Welfare Secretary, Director General of Health Services, Chief Secretaries and Principal Secretaries, Health, Director General of Police and Commissioner of Police in the metropolitan cities of all the State Governments, as well as Union Territories, Directors of 46 mental institutions across the country, calling for the specific reports detailed action taken reports within six weeks.
The NHRC visit reports suggested that none of the institutes have taken effective and long-term measures to ensure that a mentally ill person can exercise his right to community living unfettered, unchallenged, and/or without any hindrance.
Issuing the notices, the Commission has noted that it is categorically mandated under Section 19 of the Mental Healthcare Act that where it is not possible for a mentally ill person illness to live with his family or relatives or where a mentally ill person has been abandoned, appointed by his family and relatives, the appropriate Government shall provide support as appropriate including legal aid and to facilitate exercise his right to live in a family home.
It has further noted that it is a travesty that provisions of the statute have failed to ignite the consciousness of the appropriate Government(s) to provide adequate support to such vulnerable persons suffering from mental illness.