After 3 years, Maharashtra finally on course to implementing the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017

After 3 years, Maharashtra finally on course to implementing the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017

The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 is finally taking shape with the State Public Health Department closing in on setting the rules for the implementation of this law. The draft rules will go through the law and judiciary department following which it will be sent to the Central Government for approval. 

Maharashtra will get eight MHRBs or Mental Health Review Boards that will serve 36 districts of the state. The central rules for this law were designed by NIMHANS, Bengaluru with an eight-member committee formed to adapt these rules. 

The MHRBs will consist of a district judge, a representative of the district collector, a psychiatrist, a caregiver, and a medical practitioner.

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These members will look into the concerns and grievances of those affected and decide on the course of treatment for minors as well as decisions on prolonged hospitalization. Naturally, the MHRB’s primary motive is to attend to violations of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017. 

Dr. Sadhana Tayade of the Directorate of Health Services confirmed that the rules had been sent for approvals, adding “We have decided to have eight MHRBs initially. If there is a need for more boards, we will consider that later.” Tayade added that sensitization workshops have already begun for institutional caregivers to prepare for the implementation of this law.

The country has come a long way since the past few decades when mental health was usually not taken seriously. It’s incredibly relieving to know that the state of Maharashtra is finally taking steps to help citizens with their mental health concerns. 

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Dr Soumitra Pathare, said - "They may have sent the modified rules for approval, but what is stopping the state from forming the MHRBs. Those are among key requirements and the state doesn't need further approvals to set them up." Pathare was crucial in getting the aforementioned law into place. Experts have previously criticized the pace at which the rules were framed by the committee.

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