The Legal Support project focuses on providing capacity building & technical support to different stakeholders for implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.

Why Legal Support?

The Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 (MHCA) came into force on 29th May 2018. It was enacted in compliance with obligations under United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD) which India ratified in October, 2007.

The MHCA brings forth a paradigm change in the provision of mental healthcare and treatment through a two-pronged approach: (i) it protects the rights of persons with mental illness receiving mental healthcare and treatment (ii) it ensures the right to access mental health care and treatment by placing obligations on the Central and State governments.

However, since its enforcement there remains significant gaps in the MHCA’s implementation on the ground. To address these gaps, it is crucial for mental health professionals, law enforcement officials and policymakers to build a practical understanding of the systemic changes required for the implementation of the law. Consequently, stakeholders require capacity building & technical support for fulfilling their obligations to provide mental healthcare and treatment in accordance with the MHCA’s rights-based and CRPD compliant approaches.

How are we addressing the issue?

To address these gaps, we conduct the following interventions:

  • provide capacity building support to mental health professionals; law enforcement officials; policymakers; persons with mental illness; caregivers; and civil society organisations through training workshops and technical support
  • develop reference manuals & training content to assist mental health professionals, caregivers and service users in understanding the MHCA’s provisions and rights-based approaches to mental healthcare and treatment
  • train other stakeholders such as peer support volunteers, caregivers, paralegals, and law students to provide legal aid support to persons with mental illness in mental health establishments
  • provide technical support to policymakers to facilitate the MHCA’s implementation
  • run an E-Legal Support Unit to provide technical support to mental health professionals, caregivers and persons with mental illness with respect to specific legal queries regarding the MHCA’s implementation
What is the potential impact?

Through this project, we aim to improve the knowledge, perceptions and skills of mental health professionals, law enforcement officials and policymakers to fulfil their obligations under the MHCA.

We expect stakeholders will be trained in applying rights-based and CRPD-compliant approaches while providing mental healthcare and treatment in mental health establishments.

Further, we aim to assist policymakers and other statutory bodies such as the State Mental Health Authorities & Mental Health Review Boards established under the MHCA, to implement its provisions and ensure the protection and fulfilment of the rights of persons with mental illness in accordance with procedures mentioned in the MHCA.

Where have we reached?

Currently, the Centre has signed Memoranda of Understanding (MOUs) with the Governments of Chhattisgarh, Maharashtra, Gujarat, and Bihar for providing technical support to the Public Health Departments for implementation of the MHCA and the National Mental Health Policy, 2014.

From May 2018 to September 2020, more than 2000 stakeholders have been trained to implement the MHCA including psychiatrists, medical practitioners, clinical psychologists, psychiatric nurses, psychiatric social workers, police officials, lawyers, district judges and civil society organisations.

These stakeholders are associated with the District Mental Health Programmes, State Mental Health Hospitals, Bombay Psychiatric Society, Goa Psychiatric Society, Delhi Judicial Academy, Chhattisgarh Judicial Academy, Maharashtra Judicial Academy and Chhattisgarh Police Academy.

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