Mental healthcare act came into force on 7 April 2017. Section 45 of the act state that from nine months when the act gets the assent of the President of India, state governments are mandated to set up a State Mental Health Authority (SMHA). However, the majority of the state governments have failed to do so, including Madhya Pradesh. Further, section 73 requires SMHA to constitute Mental Health Review Boards, which again is something that MP is lagging behind.
While hearing a petition filed in 2020 by MP State Legal Aid Authority and High Court Legal Service Committee last month, the divisional bench of Chief Justice RV Malimath and Justice Vishal Mishra at MP High Court enquired about the status of SMHA.
The state government informed the court that it has issued the notification for the constitution of SMHA. However, the government has not been able to complete the appointment process and the notified positions continue to remain vacant.
The petitioners also highlighted that the state government has failed to provide training sessions to police, judiciary, and other authorities as mandated under the act. To this, the state government responded that it does not have enough budget.
“We are giving you the final chance to set up the SMHA and Mental Health Review Board and present the status report in the court”, said the bench while listing the matter for later.
MP is the third highest state in terms of suicide deaths and second in student suicides, as per the NCRB data released in 2022. It also continues to be in the top five states with regard to the number of farmer suicides. Moreover, the incidences of suicide are on a continuous rise in the state and its capital city, Bhopal. MP’s percentage share of suicide is also the third largest in the country at 9.1% in the year 2021.
|Year||Number of cases in MP|
Bhopal has witnessed 516 case in 2021 compared to 416 cases in 2020. It also reported one of the highest suicide rates of 30.1% compared to other cities.
Recent suicide cases of Dr. Saraswati, 27-year-old PG student at Bhopal’s Gandhi Medical College, and the Vishwakarma family have highlighted how mental health issues continue to be low on priority for the state government.
The state lacks a comprehensive suicide prevention programme or a policy. The treatment gap in MP remains extremely high at 91%, as per National Mental Health Survey 2015-16. The availability of mental health specialists such as psychologists and psychiatrists also remains abysmally poor.
The Analysis (TA) is a research and communication group working on issues of law and public policy in India. Feel free to share your submissions with us at firstname.lastname@example.org