The Supreme Court on Monday issued notice to the Centre and all States, seeking their response for improving the condition of mental hospitals in the country.

A Bench of Justices K.S. Radhakrishnan and Pinaki Chandra Ghose sought the response on a petition filed by the National Human Rights Commission highlighting the problems faced by the mental hospitals.

The NHRC said, “The mental health hospitals in the country are facing serious financial constraints as adequate resources allocation is not being made to meet their requirements. The Centre and State governments should accord priority in allocation of financial resources both for the regular maintenance and upgrade of the physical infrastructure of these institutions. There is need to undertake a country-wide epidemiological survey to identify the magnitude of the problem of mental health.”

It said many of the hospitals were 100 to 150-years old and they did not receive the same priority as general health. “These institutions should be made completely autonomous in managing their own affairs. Existing State-run mental health hospitals should be converted into teaching-cum-training institutes with adequate financial and manpower resources.”

It further said:

“There is need to train an integrated team of psychiatrists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, clinical pathologists, psychiatric social workers and nurses required to manage mental hospitals. Psychiatry and mental healthcare should be made a compulsory independent subject in the MBBS examination so that young medical professionals become capable of identifying the problem at the initial stage itself.

“Removal of all deficiencies in the existing mental hospitals with regard to the living conditions, providing nutritious and balanced food, water supply, cleanliness and hygiene, environment, sanitation, etc, in a time bound manner must receive top attention of the State government/Union territory concerned.”

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