PETITION ON IMPLEMENTATION OF MENTAL HEALTHCARE ACT, 2017 IN EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS
A 17-year-old named Devina Singh with the help of her father Arun Singh, Senior Advocate Sonia Mathur and Advocate Rahul Kumar filed a petition in Delhi HC claiming that mental health care laws are unattended in our Educational Institutions like schools and colleges. The petition demands implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 in educational institutions and seeks to make diagnosis and assessment mandatory in all educational institutions. Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 came into force on May 2018 superseding the Mental Health care act, 1987. ‘It defines mental illness as a substantial disorder of thinking, mood, perception, orientation, or memory that grossly impairs judgment, behavior, capacity to recognize reality or ability to meet the ordinary demands of life’ This act assures free treatment of persons who are Below Poverty Line or Homeless and create mental health a justiciable right. This Act is a catalyst in the Mental Healthcare sector that empowers a person to choose how they would like to be treated, their right to confidentiality, right to information about their treatment and illness. We need to ensure the proper implementation of this act in every sector especially the ‘Educational Sector’. It has been two years since the enactment of the Mental Health Care Act, 2017 but the implementation seems lacking in every sector. The act requires the government to meet international norms in Mental Health Care within the coming 10 years.
The petition says that the mental healthcare survey, 2015-16 clearly defines that children and adolescence are vulnerable to mental disorders and our healthcare system does not prioritize mental health care. The petition also argues that empirical studies found a direct correlation between academic stress and mental health. Issues like Anxiety, Stress, Fear, Panic, Depression, insomnia, Disconnectedness and lack of Self-confidence are some psychological issues among students that remained unaddressed that have a serious impact on their performances or outcomes. Prevalence of these mental Illnesses leads to High School dropouts, Addiction, More complex Disorders, Self-harm, etc. Thus there’s a need for an integrated Education System that included the mental health of children as well. The Plea argued that the good mental health of students is equally important as clean air, water, sanitation, food, hygiene, nutrition, and right to health. The plea says that we have no comprehensive assessment, evaluation, and diagnostics regarding the mental health of students whereas daily assessments are done for physical health. It is mandatory to have working professionals in all schools and colleges of the district for the regulation of the mental health of students. Covid 19 pandemic impacted the psychological wellbeing of our students which leads to disruption in daily routines, parental anxiety, no access to peers teachers, or physical activity, stress, so a need for a joint and comprehensive plan from Schools, NGOs, Government Organisations, Teachers, and Parents is the need of the hour. Covid 19 impacted our mental, physical, emotional, social, and psychological health where education is limited through online platforms and no physical or practical application of work is encouraged on account of virus transmission fear. It is high time to properly implement these laws for the proper functioning of our healthcare system.
In action to petition filed Delhi High Court issued a notice to the Delhi government, Arvind Kejriwal along with Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences (IHBAS) has asked strict implementation of Mental Health Care Act, 2017 in educational institutions and admission of professionals for diagnosis and assessment of students. A direction is also sought to authorities to implement the National Mental Health programs for the benefit of students and to conduct a survey focusing on mental health concerns of the students on regular interests. There’s hope for all Mental Health professionals, students, Parents that the mental Healthcare Act, 2017 should be properly implemented in our educational institutions. There’s a coming need to properly implement the Mental Health care Act, 2017 in other sectors as well like Sports, Organisations, Political Institutions, HealthCare, NGOs, Rehabilitation Centres, etc.