Indian Journal of PsychiatryIndian Journal of Psychiatry
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Year : 2016  |  Volume : 58  |  Issue : 6  |  Page : 168-174

Mental health, mental illness, and human rights in India and elsewhere: What are we aiming for?


Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College Dublin, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, Tallaght Hospital, Dublin, Ireland

Correspondence Address:
Brendan D Kelly
Department of Psychiatry, Trinity College Dublin, Trinity Centre for Health Sciences, Tallaght Hospital, Dublin 24
Ireland
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Source of Support: None, Conflict of Interest: None


DOI: 10.4103/0019-5545.196822

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The Mental Health Care Bill 2013 was introduced to the Rajya Sabha (India's upper house of parliament) in August 2013 and following 134 official amendments, passed in August 2016. Properly implemented, mental health legislation such as this plays a key role in protecting the rights of the mentally ill, ensuring access to care, and promoting social justice for the mentally ill, their families and carers. In this context, the 2006 United Nations' Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) presents a real opportunity to improve the position of people with disabilities and those disabled by long-term mental illness. The CRPD also presents many challenges to mental health legislators and service-providers, especially in relation to involuntary care, mental capacity, and substitute decision-making. Nevertheless, the CRPD has still generated strong incentive for reform and is an opportunity that should not be missed. Legislation along the lines of India's 2013 Bill offers much that is positive and progressive in terms of standards of care, revised processes for involuntary admission, and enhanced governance throughout mental health services. In this way, this kind of legislation, although imperfect in certain respects, promotes the principles of the CRPD (as outlined in the preamble to India's 2013 Bill). It is important that such initiatives focus not only on the right to liberty but also on rights to treatment, social care, social inclusion, and political empowerment of the mentally ill. Globally, the mentally ill have been neglected for far, far too long. It is time to fix this.



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