Delhi HC issues notice to Delhi govt on plea seeking implementation of Mental Healthcare Act 2017 in schools, colleges

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Representative Image
Representative Image

New Delhi [India], August 2 (ANI): The Delhi High Court on Monday issued notice to the Delhi Government and others on a petition seeking direction regarding implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017 and the rules framed thereunder in the educational institutions particularly at the school and college levels.

The bench of Justice DN Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh sought responses of Government of NCT Delhi and Institute of Human Behaviour and Allied Sciences (IHBAS) and slated the matter for September 16.

The petitioner Devina Singh (minor) through her father Arun Singh has approached Delhi High Court and stated that the issue of mental health amongst the students/student community is numerous, far reaching and at alarming levels. The plea seeks court intervention in the issue require urgent redressal by the respondents.

Senior Advocate Sonia Mathur appearing for petitioner further seeks direction to constitute the mental health establishment (including clinic/centre) as per the Chapter X(Sections 65- 72) read with Section 2(p) of the Act in each district schools, and colleges.

"Direct the respondents to mandate the presence of clinical psychiatrists, counsellors, social workers and mental health professionals in each school and college of the district," submitted Senior Advocate Sonia Mathur.

The petition filed through Advocate Rahul Kumar states that stress, anxiety, fear, panic, depression, insomnia, isolation, disconnectedness, loneliness, trauma, lack of self-confidence, positivity and resilience are issues widely prevalent in students, however, the same go unnoticed and unattended.

"While academic pressure and other unexpressed fears force the students affecting their academic performance and well-being, they do not have the capabilities and means to cope with the same. The issues are further compounded due to the lack of adequate attention from institutional support mechanisms. Studies have revealed that most mental disorders emerge by early adulthood and are associated with a substantial delay in treatment. Untreated or inadequately treated mental illness associated with progression to more complex disorders, school dropout, addiction, and self-harm etc. Thus, Schools and universities need to take a lead role in the development of an integrated system of student mental health care," the plea read.

The National Mental Health Survey of India 2015-16 implemented by National Institute of Mental Health and Neuro Sciences Bengaluru and supported by Ministry of Health and Family Welfare Government of India reveals "that nearly 15 per cent of Indian adult (those above 18 years) need active interventions for one or more mental health issues, the plea added.

The plea further states that the Mental Healthcare Bill 2013 while being introduced in the Lok Sabha noted in its introduction, "Experts see a growing incidence of mental illness which needs urgent attention and seven per cent of India's population suffers from mental disorders and over 90 per cent remain untreated. There is less than one psychiatrist available for every four lakh people. The scene is worse in rural areas. India's allocation for mental healthcare is less than one per cent of the health budget." (ANI)

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