In some really great news, Rajya Sabha has passed the mental health care bill of 2013. Here are some of the beneficial points:
Decriminalization of Suicide in the mental health care bill:
Under this bill, suicide will not be considered a criminal offense, but an act requiring medical attention. This is a great step because people who attempt suicide are in great levels of stress. Sometimes, they may also be suffering from psychosis or bipolar disorder. Therefore, medical and psychological intervention is required to help these people and will now rightly be provided.
Reducing the use of Electric shocks:
This is a much required step because electric shock therapy is currently rampantly used. It’s use will be limited and only under anesthesia and when absolutely required. This is a great step under the new mental health care bill.
Women and health:
The bill will focus more on the mental health of women. For example, children will not be taken away from women during treatment.
State and Central Mental Health Authority:
These bodies will be established to regulate the practices as well as to work on the lack on infrastructure like number of hospital beds and number of trained professionals available.
There is a need for a community based approach in order for the person to get all the support he/she needs and to foster an air of good mental health. This has been taken care of in the new bill.
In all, the bill has tried to address the stigma of mental illness. The bill tries to provide treatment with dignity. It allows for advanced directives, which is a sort of will, stating what you would like to be done when you are not in a state of mind to take sound decisions. You can also nominate a representative, who will have a say in your treatment process.
As a psychologist, I feel that this is a great initiative. The powerful voices of society like law will help to change the way an issue is spoken about. Today, we start with a proactive bill and tomorrow, we will have a culture of progressive mental health!
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