The Bombay High Court passed the order to the State Mental Health Authority (SMHA) to provide ‘Immediate’ rehabilitation for patients, who have been in hospital for a decade. Further held, to make a priority list for all the patients who need attention that are staying in four regional mental hospitals. It also sought an action plan for 94 disabled patients among them.
On October 7, the city psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty filed a PIL seeking implementation of the “Mental Healthcare Act, 2017” for the patients languishing in 4 regional mental hospitals of- Nagpur, Thane, Pune and Ratnagiri. He exclaimed that patients who are cured or not seriously mentally ill have been kept in hospital for more than years now. Dr. Shetty’s advocate Pranati Mehra has highlighted the plight of patients in mental hospitals for 10 years now.
According to the Review Board of SMHA, 263 patients were found to be fit to discharge and 24 were already reunited with their families. An attempt would be made to rehabilitate at least 50 more patients out of the priority list till the next hearing i.e. on December 8, 2023. Additionally, the remaining 94 patients are either physically challenged or 71 are mentally ill. Therefore, neither of them can be discharged at a moment considering this the honourable court ordered seeking an action plan for 94 disabled patients.
Further, the division bench Justice Manjusha Deshpande and Justice Nitin Jamdar sought information from eight review boards about the patients’ fitness and mental status. SMHA’s advocate Vishwajeet Sawant said 379 patients out of 475 are said to be ‘fit to be discharged’ by two psychiatrists whose opinion has to be placed before action takes place. The authority found those who are declared to be fit to discharge but are not yet rehabilitated. HC showed concern for the patients and asked the authority to conduct the review of the list on a priority basis.
Amicus curiae Senior advocate J P Sen, along with Pranati Mehra suggested that patients who stayed less than 10 years could be attempted to rehabilitate as it could be easier to do. In response, the bench has asked the authorities whether it would be possible to take steps further for below ten years or above ten years patients. Senior advocate, J P Sen said that it would be easier to rehabilitate patients who stayed for less than 10 years. The court also asked the state legal services and SMHA to take crucial steps for the mentally challenged patients and to decide on a proper plan of action.
Mental Healthcare Act, 2017
Before the Mental Health Care Act of 2017, there was already the existence of mental health care in 1987, which prioritised the institutionalisation of mentally ill people but did not afford rights to the people. The Mental Health Care Act provides care and services for mentally ill persons. This specifically aims to protect, promote and fulfil the right of the person to be treated for mental issues.
This specifically highlights the rights of the person to be well treated under the special care of the psychologist and psychiatrist. It includes rehabilitation services in hospitals, communities and supported accommodation. Subsequently, supports research and studies on persons with mental illness (PMI) and the use of neurological treatments.