KARNATAKA

‘Patients’ plight in mental hospitals pitiable’

Staff Reporter



More than 10 crore people in the country need psychological help: NIMHANS Director



BANGALORE: The National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences (NIMHANS) has conducted a study of more than 30 mental hospitals in the country at the behest of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), and the report speaks volumes about the pitiable condition of patients admitted in these hospitals, NIMHANS Director and Vice-Chancellor T. Nagaraj has said.

He was speaking at the inauguration of the Mental Health Week organised on the High Court premises by the Karnataka State Legal Services Authority (KSLSA), the High Court Legal Services Committee (HCLSC), the Mental Health Authority and NIMHANS.

Dr. Nagaraj said that there were more than 10 crore people in the country who were in immediate need for psychological help.

There was an urgent need to focus on the mental health of the people. But for the intervention of the Supreme Court, High Courts and NIMHANS, the mental health of the people and the problems afflicting the mentally challenged would have continued, he said.

This time around, the Planning Commission had allocated more than Rs. 1,000 crore for mental health programmes, Dr. Nagaraj said. He regretted that social and financial problems were coming in the way of treating mentally challenged people.

P.D. Dinakaran, Chief Justice of the Karnataka High Court, urged judicial officers, particularly magistrates, to exercise caution while passing orders on detaining mentally challenged persons.

Detention

The Mental Health Act had stated that mentally challenged people could not be detained for more than 10 days at a stretch. Also, the magistrate had to certify that he had examined the mentally challenged person before passing any detention order.

Dr. Nagaraj said that there a need to change the attitude of the people towards the mentally challenged persons. Though the nomenclature of the Lunacy Act had been changed to Mental Health Act, the social stigma of a mentally challenged person still persisted, he said.

High Court Judge S.R. Bannurmath said that in India, mental health was the only branch of health care that had not received adequate attention. Lack of sleep, quarrelsome nature and lack of coordination could lead to mental disorders, he said.

KSLSA executive chairman and High Court Judge, V. Gopala Gowda said that the authority had taken the lead in making people aware of the Mental Health Act and their obligations.

Though it was enacted in 1987, the Government was yet to completely fulfil its commitments it had made to the mentally challenged.

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