The mental health system is dormant in Kerala

The mental health system is dormant in Kerala

Although the State Mental Health Authority was established a year ago, it has yet to have a single meeting, despite statutes requiring four-yearly conventions.

In 2002, Kerala had a population of 194 out of 100,000 people with mental and physical disabilities that increased to 300 in 2018. there were 5.53 beds available to tens of thousands of people for treatment in Kerala in 2018, according to the latest figures.

Kerala experienced a rapid increase in mental illnesses between 2002 and 2018. Service and design changes will need to be mapped and checked over time. The recently reported availability of health workers and infrastructure in government seems to be insufficient to provide mental health services, as development and development continues.

In Kochi, When the Mental Health Care Act of 2017 came into effect in India, it urged provincial governments to establish a mental health authority (SMHA) statutory body that will monitor quality in mental health facilities, issue licenses and implement common policies and regulations. The move also instructed state officials to form a semi-judicial board entitled Mental Health Review (MHRB). Five such boards would be erected in Kerala.

The SMHA in Kerala, on the other hand, has not held a single meeting in the year since it was founded, according to its members. Beneficiaries are concerned about the state government's carelessness in guaranteeing the efficient operation of a board that oversees mental health services.

The SMHA is required by the regulations to convene four meetings every year. The members said that, even though the committee was supposed to choose office-bearers for five MHRBs around the state, it did not include a single psychiatrist.

The chairperson must be a district judge, a state judicial official eligible to be appointed as a district judge, or a retired district judge, according to the gazette. He or she will need to be accompanied by a psychiatrist and a medical professional. On the board, there should be two mental health survivors, carers, or representatives from organisations that help individuals with mental illnesses. Despite all of this, a new gazette was released. According to Dr C J John, an SMHA member, the board then appointed two deputy secretaries, one from health and the other from the law, as well as a non-psychiatrist from the health service.

Dr John and two other members of the authority expressed their dissatisfaction with the selection in a letter to the MHA's chairman, the principal secretary. They also challenged it at the High Court, where the division bench ruled that the method was incorrect and requested that the term administrative secretariat be reconsidered. The ruling, according to the complainants' lawyer Litto Palathingal, is proof that the government failed to make suitable nominations.

The decision dealt with the CEO's appointment. A postgraduate degree in psychiatry and three years of experience in the area of psychiatry are required under the 1987 Act, which is the precursor of the 2017 Act. Instead, he claims, the government decision confined the scope to only a deputy secretary with no regard for academic qualifications. The CEO position was granted to a non-medical individual who arrived through a general transfer.

After the Kerala Legal Services Authority argued in the High Court that the Mental Health Care Act was not being followed in Kerala, the SMHA was founded. The State Mental Health Authority, as well as professional organisations such as the Indian Psychiatric Society, are not represented on this critical selection committee. Dr John said that the collective duty of a lawfully constituted body has been woefully overlooked.

The State Mental Health Authority was established by Gazette notification in January 2021, as directed by the High Court. Two vacancies have yet to be filled, and no SMHA meeting has been scheduled for this year, even though section 56 of the MHCA requires at least four meetings each year, and the High Court condemned the procedure as improper and ordered a review of the term administrative secretariat.

The legislation requires the formation of five Mental Health Review Boards in the state, but a selection committee was constituted without contacting the SMHA and without a single psychiatrist.



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