Only one out of 10 people in India with mental health disorder receive evidence-based treatment – the Lancet Psychiatry report revealed, last year. The issue of mental illness has grown rapidly in India and China over the last decade and will increase faster in the coming days.
Addressing the rising mental health hazards in India, the Parliament, this week, passed the Mental Healthcare Bill in Lok Sabha. The new bill aims to protect and restore the rights of an individual suffering from mental disorders and decriminalises suicide attempt by mentally ill citizens.
A quick look
According to the new Mental Healthcare Bill, “Notwithstanding anything contained in section 309 of the Indian Penal Code, any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said code.”
After reports on China and India’s rising mental illness numbers, the bill was raised in Rajya Sabha in August 2016 and was passed with 134 official amendments. The bill primarily looks at safeguarding the rights and dignity of a person suffering from any kind of mental illness. The right to mental healthcare and attention of an individual remains the premise of the new bill as it envisages good quality and easily accessible mental treatment.
The bill clearly outlines the procedure and process for admission, treatment and consequent discharge of the people going through a mental burden.
Most importantly, the bill effectively decriminalises suicide attempt by mentally ill persons under the Indian Penal Code, making it non-punishable.
Rising mental disorder in India
The combined population of India and China is over 2.5 billion, which makes up 38 pc of the world population. According to the Lancet Report, 36 million years of healthy life were lost to mental illness in China, and 31 million in India. Estimates now suggest that by 2025, 39.6 million years of healthy life will be lost to mental illness in China (10 pc increase), and 38.1 million in India (23 pc increase).
Dementia is also a growing problem for both countries.
From 2012 to 2025, the number of healthy years lost to dementia will have increased by 82 pc in India (from 1.7 million to 3.2 million) and by 56 pc in China (from 3.5 million to 5.4 million).
In India, the proportion of all burden explained by mental, neurological and substance use disorders increased from 3 pc in 1990 to 6 pc in 2013. Between 2013 and 2025, the population in both countries is expected to increase — from 1.39 billion to 1.45 billion in China, and from 1.25 billion to 1.45 billion in India.