GMC organises workshop on Mental Health Care

The workshop was attended by faculty members registrars and postgraduates of GMC Srinagar, senior psychiatrists working at Directorate of Health services Kashmir and eminent psychiatrists working in private sector.

ZEHRU NISSA
Srinagar, Publish Date: Dec 23 2017 11:45PM | Updated Date: Dec 23 2017 11:45PM
GMC organises workshop on Mental Health CareRepresentational Pic

Meant to address the lacunae in delivery and facilities for treatment and care of mental health illnesses, J&K is set to implement Mental Health Care Act 2017 by January 2018 as mandated by a presidential order.

One day workshop with mental health experts was convened today at Government Medical College (GMC) Srinagar by Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS) in collaboration with Behavioral and Neurosciences Academy of India (BANAI), New Delhi, in a bid to build awareness regarding Mental healthcare Act 2017. Dr Rajesh Nagpal director BANAI and Dr Naveen C Kumar from NIMHANS Bangalore conducted the training workshop.

The Mental Healthcare Bill 2017 was passed by parliament in March 2017 and requires to be implemented in J&K before January 2018, mental health experts said. As per the Act, “Every State Government shall, within a period of nine months from the date on which this Act receives the assent of the President, by notification, establish, for the purposes of this Act, an Authority to be known as the State Mental Health Authority”. The Bill got nod of President of India in April this year.  

While experts discussed how the new Act aims to bring about changes in existing treatment facilities and practices, there were apprehensions regarding how, with the infrastructural and manpower deficiencies in Kashmir, it could be implemented. It was agreed upon that J&K needed to update its mental healthcare services and bring about necessary amendments to make the Act more patient friendly.

Prof Samia Rashid, principal GMC who was chief guest at the event, while acknowledging that there might be critique regarding the Act, impressed upon building “better understanding” about it. “This Act will shape up the delivery of care of mental health illnesses. We need to understand it thoroughly to implement it better,” she said.

Speaking about the Act, DrMaqbool Ahmed Dar, head department of psychiatry said, “The Act is a landmark in itself. It is aimed at improving the facilities for mental healthcare while also attempting to secure rights of people with mental health issues.” He however believes that “much needs to be done” for the act to get implemented in reality. “Our manpower and load of patients and the lacunae in our facilities would definitely be an issue in its implementation,” he said.

The Act paves way for augmenting mental health facilities and manpower required to deliver these services. “The appropriate Government shall make sufficient provision as may be necessary, for a range of services required by persons with mental illness” reads the Act. It also mandates that “half-way homes, sheltered accommodation, supported accommodation as may be prescribed” are set up. It also advocates that those who cannot afford are provided free treatment and access to facilities, irrespective of whether they possess documents to prove their economic status or not.

Although the Act aims to secure rights of people with mental health illness, and is elaborative in defining and explaining the legal, health and privacy rights, healthcare experts said that it would need to be discussed further to ensure that it does not violate a person’s right to access mental and other health services. “The essence of the Act is human rights. But while it says that a person can ‘wish not to be treated’, there is a problem at hand,” DrArshidHussain, professor at department of psychiatry at GMC Srinagar said.

Dr Hussain is also concerned that the Act should not criminalise mental illnesses. “Things like having a judicial review would, I personally feel, create impediments in building willingness to access mental healthcare,” he said.

As per the Act, J&K is required to constitute a mental health review board, the composition, location and members of which are to be decided by the state mental health authority in consultation with state government.

The workshop was attended by faculty members registrars and postgraduates of GMC Srinagar, senior psychiatrists working at Directorate of Health services Kashmir and eminent psychiatrists working in private sector.

 

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