Rising psychological ailments but JK yet to implement Mental Health Act
Srinagar, Apr 29: Despite witnessing a rise in mental ailment in the valley, the state government is yet to implement the Mental Health Care Act 2017.
The Act, passed by the Rajya Sabha in August 2016 and the Lok Sabha in March 2017, attempts to empower the people suffering mental illnesses with an aim to safeguard their right to treatment.
Despite being legally applicable to entire India, the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 is yet to reach the state where the cases of mental ailments are on an increase.
Recently, a study done by the Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (IMHANS), Kashmir, in collaboration with Action Aid Association with support of Directorate General for Humanitarian Aid and Civil Protection (ECHO), showed that 11.3 percent of adult population suffers mental illness in the valley principally due to conflict.
The prevalence is higher than the Indian national average of 7.3 per cent.
The study surveyed 4000 people across the two districts only showed the prevalence of mental health disorders was more in females (12.9 percent) than males (8.4 percent).
As per the study, in the socio-economic and political context, more people have become victims to mental trauma, stress, anxiety, depression and many other mental health disorders.
In the year 2018, as per the doctors at Psychiatry Disease Hospital, every day hundreds of patients visit the Out Patient Department (OPD).
Also, the Psychiatry Unit of SMHS hospital receives more than 40 cases of mental ailment and drug abuse cases in children.
As per the doctors and child psychologist at the unit, the children are suffering from at least six common disorders such as depression, attention-deficit hyperactivity (ADHD), autism, mood disorders, anxiety, and personality disorders.
Out of 40 cases, the unit receives 12 cases of drug abuse.
In addition, as per the records of Jammu & Kashmir Coalition of Civil Society (JKCCS), a major human rights group based in Srinagar, around 15 mentally ill people in the state were killed by the government forces between 2003 and 2011.
Habeel Iqbal, a lawyer at Shopian Court, said the Act should be implemented in the state.
“The enactment of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 protects the rights of the mentally ill and enable citizens to decide on the method of treatment in case of mental illness, lest they are mistreated or neglected,” he said.
He said earlier mental ailment cases were less, but now they were rising.
“The Act makes it obligatory for the state to create a mechanism for licensing and monitoring mental health care facilities. But in the Valley, mentally disordered people have always been neglected by the government.”
He further said, the Act is applicable for entire India, but in J&K, there is no implementation of the Act.
He said, people facing psychological problems in Kashmir are not getting proper rights and facilities due to lack of proper implementation of the Act. “The Act needs to be implemented like in other parts of the world. No one including the police has knowledge about the Act.
He also said the primary and secondary healthcare institutions lack the basic infrastructure and facilities in the Valley for mentally disordered people.”
“Such people shall not be lodged in jails, but to be admitted to psychiatric hospital and its unit,” he added.