As the World Health Organization says, “There is no health without mental health.”
Representative image ; Source : manhattanmedicalarts.com
We aren't unknown to the struggles that are faced by unsound Persons.
There's a huge gap created due to social stigma and prejudices. Its the law which comes in to play to bridge the gap of social acceptance and grant various rights to people that suffer from mental illnesses. Mental Health Care Act, 2017 is one among such step of the lawmakers to beat this gap.
The Mental Health Care Act, 2017 has defined Mental Illnesses as a disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behaviors, capacity to recognize reality or ability to satisfy the standard demands of life. It also includes mental conditions related to the abuse of alcohol and medicines [section 2(s)].
Rights under Mental Health Care Act, 2017-
The Mental Health Care Act, 2017 has been viewed as a historical intervention within the field of medical healthcare. It’s been named as a 'pro-right' document for the Persons with mental illness (PMI).
• Right to access healthcare services -
The PMI has the right to enter mental health care service by the government .The services provided should be affordable and of great quality in order that financial status isn't a barrier for persons affected by mental disorder. Furthermore, the standard of the services must not be compromised.
• Right to free of cost healthcare services -
The persons living below the poverty level have the right to urge the mental health care services and facilities freed from cost. Furthermore, the PMI have the right to avail all the medicines registered within the vital Drug list, notified by the acceptable government, at free of cost.
• Right to live within a community-
The government is obligated under the Act to offer such healthcare facilities so the person bearing from mental illnesses is in a position to live in a community, along side his family. Such characters can't be faraway from society, it's the duty of the govt to render aid. Furthermore, the mother of a toddler who is below three years has the right not to be separated from her child for the basis for her being unsound . This right can be restrained if there's a risk of harm to the child, the child may be temporarily separated from the mother.
• Right to protection from cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment-
The roots of the right to a dignified life fall in Article 21 of the Constitution. This has been included within the Mental Healthcare Act too which lays down that each person enduring from mental illnesses features a right to live with dignity. Moreover, such persons even have the right to be protected against cruel, inhuman and degrading treatment in any health establishment. To provided them with a secure and hygienic environment and right to privacy.
• Right to not be treated under prohibited treatment-
The Act completely prohibits electroconvulsive treatment for youngsters . Even for adults, the therapy has been completed by taking certain precautions like using muscle relaxants and anesthesia.
• Right to equality and non-discrimination -
The persons with mental illnesses have the right to be treated equitably as any other patient at the time of treatment, i.e. with reference to emergency services, ambulance services, etc. And no discrimination shall be made on any basis which shall include gender, sex, sexual orientation, religion, culture, caste, social or political beliefs, class or disability.
• Right to information-
The Act believes that each person has the right to grasp the provisions of the Act under which he has been admitted. The person has also the liberty to understand all the facets of the treatment that he has been admitted, which involves the knowledge of the side-effects of such treatment. Such notice has got to be made in a comprehensible language to the one that has been admitted and representative.
• Right to confidentiality -
It is the right of every person with mental illnesses that the details with reference to his mental illnesses are preserved under confidentiality. a obligation has been cast upon the health professionals for not revealing any such information subject to certain exceptions like to forestall harm, public safety and security, etc.
• Right to legal aid and complain -
Article 39A of the Constitution systematizes down the directive of free legal aid. This has been included under the Act for persons with mental illnesses who can seek legal aid to exercise the rights provided under the Act.
Additional, the person is additionally entitled to the right to complain with reference to the lack of mental health care services or facilities provided to him.
• Right to form an advance directive -
The Act grants the right to persons with mental illnesses to form advance directive with reference to the way the person should and should not be treated in case of his mental illnesses. Farther, within the advance directive, he also has the right to designate a nominated representative.
Simultaneously with these rights, there are other rights too like the right to access medical records and therefore the right to communication. The latter includes the right to refuse any visitant and communication made to them.
The persons with mental illnesses have been furnished certain rights but along side that, some laws have also restrained a number of their rights.
• Right to enter into a contract -
Such persons can't give valid consent under the eyes of the law due to the shortcoming to understand the character of the contract and to make a rational judgment. Hence, they do not have the capacity to enter into a legitimate contract, except during lucid intervals under the Indian Contract Act, 1872. Lucid intervals mean the instant when the person isn't in the clutch of his mental illnesses.
• Right to marry -
Marriage is ruled by various personal laws. The Hindus are governed by the Hindu Marriage Act, 1955 which disables an individual affected by mental illnesses to give valid consent and hence, fulfill the need of a legitimate marriage. Even the Special Marriage Act, 1954 doesn't recognize the marriage as valid if consent is given by an individual with mental illnesses. Nevertheless, under all these personal laws, such marriage isn't void but voidable.
• Right to vote or hold public office -
The person with mental illnesses doesn't have the right to register in an electoral roll under the Representation of People Act ,1950. And is disqualified from holding any position in public office.
• Right to make will -
A person affected by mental illnesses cannot make a valid will, except through lucid intervals under the Indian Succession Act, 1925. this is often because the person cannot comprehend the nature of the testamentary document due to such illnesses.
• Right to not be held liable for a criminal offense-
The Indian Penal Code, 1860 releases the persons with the unsound mind from criminal liability. this is often due to the very fact that one of the most significant elements i.e. mens rea is missing from the offense. As there's no guilty mind, there are often neither criminal liability.
The rights of the Mentally Ill are neglected for much too long. It’s high time to mend it and provide them with the world they deserve , free from stigmas and judgements and full of hopes and acceptance for everyone. The Mental Health Care Act, 2017 is a positive step of the lawmakers to safeguard and right the rights of persons with mental illness.