Maharashtra Forms Eight Mental Health Review Boards | Bombay News
Mumbai: Maharashtra has formed eight Mental Health Review Boards (MHRBs) under the mandate of the Mental Health Care Act (2017), which provides for one review board for each district in the country.
From February 2022, three of the boards will operate from the state’s regional mental hospitals in Thane, Pune and Nagpur, while the other five will operate from Kolhapur, Nashik, Akola, Aurangabad and Latur.
One of the primary functions of the board will be to record, review, alter, modify or rescind an advance directive made by an individual. According to the law, a person with mental illness has the right to formulate an advance directive indicating how they wish to be treated for the illness during a mental health situation and who will be their designated representative.
Each review board will be headed by a chief judicial magistrate and will include other members such as a physician, psychiatrist, two psychiatric patients or cured caregivers and a representative of the district collector or district magistrate or deputy commissioner. , among others.
âBefore the 2017 law came into force, if a patient were to be admitted to a mental health facility, the caregiver’s relatives would need a magistrate’s order. Now, patients can be assessed by psychiatrists and admission must be notified to the review board, âsaid Dr Vijay Maskar, doctor at the Directorate of Health Services.
“The board can be approached to appeal, consider admissions and consider disputes if there is any,” he said, adding that prior permission from the board should be sought in the event that a minor or a woman is to undergo electroconvulsive therapy (ECT).
The state sent nomination letters to board members who were chosen after a call for nominations through announcements followed by interviews.
Psychiatrist Dr Bharat Vatwani, who was appointed to the Thane District Review Committee, said the committees would serve as checkpoints to ensure patients’ rights are protected.
Dr Sanjay Kumawat, a psychiatrist who practices in Thane and Mulund and who has worked with the state’s health department for nearly three decades, expressed concern about the lack of budget and the workload because only eight review boards will have to deal with 36 districts of the state.
âIf fully implemented, advice will have an important role to play in ensuring that patients do not languish in facilities for a long time. For example, boards will need to take stock of how many days a patient spends in a facility and look at the situation on a case-by-case basis, âKumavat said.
âWe will gradually cover all the districts, but for now we are working to make these eight councils operational from February,â said a state health official. “We are currently working on their remuneration and other logistical means for their day-to-day operation,” the official said.
The law came into force in 2017, repealing an earlier version, and offers a wide range of rights protections for people in need of mental health care and services. According to a 2017 study in Lancet Psychiatry, 14.3% of India’s population (or 197.3 million people) suffer from mental illness.