DISPEL TABOOS ON MENTAL HEALTH: MADRAS HIGH COURT
WHO stated that India is the most depressed country with 90 million Indians suffering from mental health illnesses. Madras HC judges expressed concern over this issue and directed the government to establish more mental health institutions in the country. Madras High Court says it is the duty of the center as well as state government to have a comprehensive and joint action plan to identify and assess patients suffering from mental illness and provide them with appropriate interventions by conduction timely surveys.
A public Interest Litigation (PIL) was filed on establishing mental healthcare facilities at the central prison in Madurai or tiruchi to treat prisoners, passing orders in this case Justices N. Kirubakaram and B. Pugalendhi focused on WHO report. The court said that every psychological problem is preventable, the lack of awareness or knowledge about mental health issues, inadequate workforce such as psychologists, psychiatrists, social workers, and nurses, insufficient treatment facilities, high cost of treatment, long-distance travel, etc. led to the increment of mental illness in last 10 years.
The court insisted on creating a psychiatry department in all medical colleges so that government can avail of mental health treatment easily. The bench focuses on the establishment of more institutions like NIMHANS across the country as it stated that 47 government-run mental hospitals would not be sufficient for a country with a 136 crore population. The Court also emphasizes insurance coverage for mental health. The judges said that we stigmatized people suffering from mental illness which prevents them from taking appropriate treatment. The stigma attached should be removed by awareness plan so that people develop an appropriate attitude towards the people suffering from mental health issues, government should take actions to sensitize people about the importance and relevance of good mental health. The court also emphasized on proper implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.
In a country like India, more focus is given to physical health than mental health and the need of the hour is to prioritize mental health in all spheres of our life, by a joint action plan from all stakeholders. The high court highlighted removing stigma about mental health, which can be achieved when we collectively address existing issues.