Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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Year : 2019  |  Volume : 61  |  Issue : 10  |  Page : 832-837

Family matters! – The caregivers' perspective of Mental Healthcare Act 2017

1 Consultant Psychiatrist, Department of Psychiatry, Sridhar Neuropsychiatric Centre, Shimoga, Karnataka, India
2 Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Subbaiah Institute of Medical Sciences; Managing Trustee, Shimoga, Karnataka, India
3 Caregiver of a Patient and Clinical Research Coordinator, Kshema Trust, NGO for Mental Health, Shimoga, Karnataka, India
4 Director, Spandana Health Care, Bengaluru, Karnataka, India

Correspondence Address:
Dr. K S Pavitra
Sridhar Neuropsychiatric Centre, Rajendra Nagar, Shimoga - 577 204, Karnataka
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None

DOI: 10.4103/psychiatry.IndianJPsychiatry_141_19

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Mental health continues to fight for acceptance in health care all over the world. The need for a separate act for mental illnesses proves this fact even more. The very nature of the mental illness has necessitated legislation to aid the service providers and service users. The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 has taken great initiatives in terms of protection of human rights for people with mental illness such as the inclusion of mental illness in health insurance, stress on informed consent, decriminalization of suicide, and introduction of advance directives (ADs) and punishment to those who violate the law. However, in a country like India where the family as a unit has more significance than personal autonomy, the new act emphasizes the patient's rights and, in doing so, may make the doctors more defensive and fearful in making clinical decisions, thus shifting the burden to the shoulders of the family members. There is a need for suitable amendments to include the family's concerns as well; otherwise, the present act would stand as an alien Western law enforced on Indian cohesive family dynamics. Qualitative studies are required from the family's perspective to illustrate the hindrances that the patients' families are facing. In the context of Indian family structure and dynamics and working in the Indian community, we feel that without suitable amendments to include the family's concerns, the present act would stand as an alien Western law enforced on Indian cohesive family dynamics.



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