LG aka the Lieutenant Governor VK Saxena has approved the establishment of Delhi’s first-ever State Mental Health Authority. He signaled the government’s lackluster approach in initiating action towards the constitution of such fundamental authority. The authority was slated to come into effect 5 years ago.
Sections 45-46 of the Mental Health Care Act 2017 highlight and mandate the foundation of a State Mental Health Authority (SMHA) by all the state governments, within the stipulated period of 9 months from the date the President gives his assent to the act.
The State Mental Health Authority (SMHA) is obligated to list clinical psychologists, psychiatric social workers, mental health nurses as well as mental health experts with a mandatory experience of 15 years, apart from ex-officio government members of the state. In tandem with conducting training programs for educating and grooming the officials, and health professionals about the different provisions and implementation of the Act, explained LG Saxena.
The diverse profiles in SMHA aimed at including all the necessary facets of mental health care so that it can be regulated as a “dynamic body” and not become another “bureaucratic regulator”, LG stated in the file.
LG’s Note of Disappointment on the status of Delhi’s Mental Health Authority
Officials stated that the act was formulated while considering the gravity of the mental health situation of people in our country. The act once came into effect would take care of the crucial task of the administration and development of quality mental health care services in every state by the government.
LG Saxena expressed his agitation on the procedural delay of 5 years in the proper enactment of the act and set up of authority. He berated the concerned officials for sending him the proposal after all this time and that too consisting of the names of only ex-officio members and not other representatives mentioned in the act.
“This cavalier approach exhibited by the department in the constitution of such an important statutory authority is deeply disconcerting”, the LG stated.
He expressed his disbelief that the Union health ministry itself had to write to the Delhi Government so that the latter could be “shaken out of its inertia” and initiate an action on the same.
LJ Saxena showed his discontentment with the Delhi Government’s inattention and laxity in advancing the statutorily warranted action and carelessly leaving the proposal unattended for four and a half months before the Health Minister.
The LJ stated that he couldn’t help but notice the lackadaisicalness and therefore he expects the chief minister to take preventive measures in advance and avoid such issues in the future.
What are the Mental-Health Stats of India?
The negligence and lack of awareness of mental health issues is a cause big enough to escalate the development procedures of SMHA. India ranks one when it comes to population. According to the National Library of Medicine, In 2017, India recorded a whopping number of 197.3 million people who were suffering from mental health disorders, which is almost 95% of the total population.
Keeping in mind the demographic, socio-economic and socio-cultural diversity of each state, the programs must be adjusted in accordance with the needs and requirements of each state separately.
Mental Health is gaining overdue recognition and acknowledgment across different parts of the world. Global health policy has marked mental health as a priority concern. Mental Health is also included in the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
India with its purpose to achieve an inexpensive, fair and universal mental health treatment implemented its first-ever National Mental Health Policy in 2014 and revised it as the Mental Healthcare Act in 2017.