All You Need To Know About Mental Healthcare Act, 2017

It is important for all of us to look after our mental health along with our physical health during this Covid-19 time. WHO has launched an initiative with its partners to provide guidance and advice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Mental health or mental illness has affected most of us in some way or the other during this pandemic. The death of late actor Sushant Singh Rajput leaves the country in a state of shock, bringing the spotlight back on mental health issue.

We generally do not want to talk about our mental health problems. We always try not to talk about it. We never admit that we are suffering from a mental health problem.

Mental health is an important part of the overall health and wellbeing of a person, as it affects how we think, feel, or act. 

The WHO expressed its worries about the mental health problems that people are experiencing in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic. They mentioned that people are facing new realities of life by working from home, temporary unemployment, home-schooling of children, and lack of physical contact with other family members, friends, and colleagues.

It is important for all of us to look after our mental health along with our physical health during this Covid-19 time. WHO has launched an initiative with its partners to provide guidance and advice during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guidance is being provided to health workers, managers of health facilities, people who are looking after children, older adults, and people in isolation.

When we go for a check-up or consultation with a general physician, we have an idea about a set of questions we can ask. We are also aware of the treatment options. We maintain our medical records for any future events, and know when and how to claim the insurance money.

YOU MAY LIKE TO READ: Mental Health And Coping During Covid-19

But this is rarely the case when we visit a mental health professional. Our knowledge about mental health, treatment options, Government schemes, policies and laws are limited. 

To address these problems, the Mental Healthcare Act of 2017 was introduced. It provides a detailed overview of all the rights that a mental health patient must need to know.

What is the Mental Healthcare Act?

The mental healthcare Act was passed on the 7th of April 2017. It came into force on 7th July 2018. This act aims to provide mental healthcare and services to all the people with mental illness.

It also aims to protect, promote and fulfill the rights of these people during delivery of mental healthcare services and for matters connected therewith or incidental thereto.

It underlines the rights of such people while they are seeking help for these concerns. It also adds the important rules and precautionary measures the healthcare institutions and practitioners must follow.

What is the right to advance directive?

The right to advance directive means you own a right to make an advance directive or a legal document where you can mention how you want to or don’t want to be treated for your health problems.

  • It means the power is in your hand to decide in which direction you want your treatment to go
  • The mental health professional in charge of the treatment will have to follow your legal advance directive if a copy of it is presented to them before.
  • And in case if the mental health professional does not want to follow the advance directive then they will have to make an application to the Board for review.

What is the right to no discrimination in mental healthcare?

The right to no discrimination in a mental health illness significantly means you have the right to access mental healthcare and treatment without any discrimination on the basis of gender, sex, sexual orientation, religion, culture, and caste, social, or any political beliefs.

  • This particularly underlines that mental health practitioners cannot mistreat any client or just turn them away on the basis of any discrimination.
  • It also shows that mental health problems can happen to anyone and is universal.

What is the right to insurance coverage in mental healthcare?

It is said that every particular insurer or insurance company must make provisions for medical insurance for the treatment of mental health in India. It should be similar to the insurance policies for the treatment of physical illnesses.

  • Therefore every insurer has to cater to all policyholders with mental health concerns in the same way they cater to the physical health illnesses. Therapy can be expensive and financially oppressive. So, it important to always keep a check on it, like if you are currently getting help or want to get help, you have to make sure and speak to your insurance provider if you have any policy under it.

Why is the Right to confidentiality important
in mental health care? 

The right to confidentiality is very important with respect to mental healthcare as well as physical treatments. It means that mental health professionals will not be able to share anything about anyone’s treatment to others including the patient’s family.

This states that you can now openly and freely discuss your feelings and experiences without any fear.

What is the Right to medical records?

The right to medical records generally means having the right to access the patient’s basic medical records as may be prescribed. Just similar to the right to access the medical records for consultation or procedures for physical problems, you can similarly do it for your mental treatments as well.

If any information in the medical records is withheld from the person, they have the right to apply to the concerned board for an order to release such information.


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