World Mental Health Day: Implementing Mental Healthcare Act, 2017

By: Rishabh Shrivastava

Make mental health for all a global priority is the official theme for this year’s World Mental Health Day

In 2017, India got one of the most progressive and landmark law – The Mental Healthcare Act (MHCA). It was for the first time that policymakers guaranteed a rights-based approach to mental health issues in the country. Not only this, for the first time, it very specifically provided for crucial rights of people with mental conditions like the right to information, right to privacy, right to decision making among others.

However, after five years, today the implementation of MHCA 2017 remains extremely poor. From the constitution of state mental health boards to providing insurance to treatment seekers, several of its well-intentioned provisions remain non-implemented throughout the nation. Governments have barely taken any steps to build awareness and engage stakeholders on MHCA 2017.

As WHO highlights in its recent and world’s largest global mental health review, “countries need to implement strategic change such as developing a strong mental health legal framework, strengthening community mental health services, including mental health coverage in insurance schemes and integrating mental health into general health care”, MHCA 2017 remains our only hope to improve mental health policy and governance landscape in India.

Transparent and efficient implementation of MHCA 2017 holds the key to realizing this year’s WMHD theme – “Make Mental Health For All A Global Priority.” It is also a wake-up call for agencies at the central and state levels to unite and pick up their act on MHCA 2017, considering that the COVID-19 pandemic has already pushed millions into depression, anxiety and other mental health illnesses.

Watch our short video on the issue here.

Rishabh is a lawyer and writer working in climate change, health and social justice. He is a Co-founder and Editor-in-chief at TA. Rishabh tweets at @Writer_Rishabh.

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