To determine the health of an individual, there are mainly five aspects of
personal health taken into account: physical, mental, social, spiritual, and
intellectual. Mental health is a vital part of personal health and is more than
the absence of mental illness. According to The World Health Organization (WHO)
mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realizes his or
her own abilities, can cope with the normal stresses of life, can work
productively and fruitfully, and is able to make a contribution to his or her
Mental health is a prevalent problem in India which needs serious discussion and
attention. In recent times, there has been a remarkable surge of mental problems
among the Indian population, but the lack of recognition still remains the same.
On 27 March, 2017 Lok Sabha passed the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 which then
commenced on July 2018. The act is seen as a valuable step towards catering the
mental health needs of those wanting help and looks forward to protect their
Definition Of Mental Illness Under This Act
The term Mental Illness
in MHA 2017 is given an elaborate definition which was
lacked by the previous act of 1987 in which mental illness was defined as any
mental disorder and seldom as mental retardation, it is now defined in section 2
under the act according to which mental illness indicates a substantial disorder
of thinking, mood, perception, orientation or thought that seriously impairs
behaviour, capacity to recognise reality, or ability to meet daily needs; mental
conditions linked to the degradation of alcohol and drugs; but does not
constitute a mental barrier, which is a state of a person's mind that has not
developed normally or at all, often characterised by knowledge that is below
Major provisions of the act
These are some of the essential provision of the mental healthcare act,2017.
Rights of the mentally ill
The Act includes a number of rights for those with mental illnesses, such as:
- It guarantees that everyone has the right to get mental healthcare and
treatment from medical facilities managed or supported by the Government.
These services are restricted to its three guiding principles:
accessibility, availability, and affordability.
- People who are homeless, destitute, or living below the poverty line are
entitled to free mental health services and treatment from facilities that
are run by the government regardless of the fact whether the individual
carries a below poverty line card or not.
- The right to equality and non-discrimination mandates that all
individuals with mental illnesses receive the same care as those who have
- Access to basic medical records maintained by or supported by the
government is a right for every person with a mental illness.
- Subject to specific restrictions, this act also gives mentally ill
people the right to confidentiality regarding their mental health, mental
healthcare, and treatment.
- Such mentally ill individuals and their nominated representative have
been granted the right to information. Everyone has the right to know the
provisions of this Act, the nature of the person's mental illness, the
suggested course of treatment, and other information in a language he can
- The Legal Service Authority Act of 1987 grants people with mental
illness the right to free legal services.
- They have the ability to file complaints with the relevant authorities
regarding shortcomings in the delivery of services.
A person with a mental illness has the right to make an advance directive
outlining their preferred course of treatment and nominating a representative. A
medical practitioner certification or registration with the Mental Health Board
is required for the advance directive. A mental health professional, family
member, or caretaker can ask the Mental Health Board to examine, change, or
revoke the advance directive if they do not want to follow it while providing
care for the patient.
Mental health establishments
In the past, mental health facilities solely featured hospitals and nursing
homes for those with mental illnesses. Later, under the Act, establishments for
Ayurveda, Yoga, Naturopathy, Unani, Siddha, and Homeopathy were also included
and were under government administration. Additionally, it says that the Act
requires all mental health facilities to register with the appropriate central
or state mental health authority.
The Center and state-level medical institutes have a responsibility to keep
track of people who are mentally ill and receiving medical treatment. A list of
the professionals who are professionally qualified to deliver healthcare must be
kept up to date by the state authority. These establishments must meet specific
requirements as listed in the Act in order to register.
Mental health review boards
The Act includes a few provisions that pertain to the establishment of Mental
Health Review Boards.
The main duties of this quasi-judicial body include:
- Registering, examining, changing, modifying, or revoking advance
- Nominating a representative to represent you.
- Supporting statement of this decision about the lack of care and
- Taking appropriate action to protect the rights of those who are
suffering from mental illness.
According to Central Mental Health's recommendation, a Mental Health Review
Board will be established in each district for a term of five years. Members of
the Review Board include a representative of the Honorable District Judge
(retired judges are also taken into consideration), the district collector, a
psychiatrist, a medical professional, and two people who may be PMIs,
caregivers, or representatives of non-profit organisations. Members may serve
terms of office up to the age of 70.
Decriminalization of suicide
This landmark decision abolished Section 309 of the IPC. According to Section
115 of this Act, anyone who attempts suicide will be assumed to be experiencing
significant stress unless otherwise proven, and they will not be tried or
penalised in accordance with Indian Penal Code Section 309. A person who has
attempted suicide and is under a lot of stress and must receive care, treatment,
and rehabilitation from the government in order to reduce the possibility of
Abolition of barbarous medical treatment
The act affirms that a person with mental illness shall not be subjected to
electroconvulsive therapy (ECT) therapy without the application of muscle
relaxants and anaesthesia and ECT for minors is strictly prohibited. It also
states that chaining in any manner or method whatsoever is banned.
Penalties and offences
Any infringement of a provision under this Act is punishable by a six-month
prison sentence, a Rs. 10,000 fine, or both. Repeat offenders may face a further
two years in prison, a fine ranging from 50,000 to 5 lakh rupees, or both.
The Mental Health Care Act of 2017 proved to be an admirable attempt in the
treatment of mental disease in people. These are noble provisions that have been
made. The most important of them was the abolition grievously harsh Section 309
of the Indian Penal Code. However, there are a number of obstacles to this Act,
including the subpar medical infrastructure of the nation, the severe dearth of
mental health experts, a lack of funding, societal stigma, etc. The
implementation of this act has to be a joint effort of the government along with
the citizens of the nation only then the act would prove to be an asset to the
- IPC 309. India Kanoon, indiankanoon.org/doc/1501595.