‘Establish NIMHANS-like institutions in all zones’
In order to address mental health issues, a Central health institution like NIMHANS must be established in each zone of the country, observed the Madurai Bench of the Madras High Court. “It is shocking to note that India is the most depressed country in the world,” observed the court taking cognisance of a WHO report.
A Division Bench of Justices N. Kirubakaran (since retired) and B. Pugalendhi observed that for a country like India with a population of 136 crore having 47 mental health hospitals was not enough. There was an acute shortage of psychiatrists and child psychiatrists. There was a need for every medical college to have a Department of Psychiatry, the judges said.
The court said efforts should be made to have a psychiatrist at every taluk-level headquarters hospital. Under Section 21(4) of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017, there was a provision for insurance coverage for mental illnesses, but it was not known to the general public.
The court said Karnataka had devised digital monitoring mechanisms to oversee District Mental Health Programme and the implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act. The Karnataka Mental Health Management System (e-Manas) was developed with provisions for registering mental health establishments and mental health professionals.
The Central government and the State governments had to follow Karnataka’s e-Manas. When WHO stated that India was the most depressed country in the world, it was the duty of the Central government along with all the State governments to have a comprehensive coordinate action plan, the court said.
The court said the patients had to be rehabilitated properly and to identify new patients there should be a periodical medical survey. There must be coordination between the State and Central governments to give proper mental health care to the masses, the court said and disposed of the petition filed by K.R. Raja of Madurai. The petitioner had sought a direction to provide mental health care facilities in the central prisons in the State.