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HC seeks Delhi government’s response on plea alleging non-implementation of mental health law in schools and colleges

The petition seeks the diagnosis and assessment of mental health to be made mandatory in educational institutions.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
August 2, 2021 12:37:48 pm
The case will be heard again on September 16. (File Photo)

The Delhi High Court on Monday issued a notice to the Arvind Kejriwal government and the Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences (IHBAS) while hearing a petition seeking constitution of mental health establishments in schools and colleges and presence of professionals there for diagnosis and assessment of students.

The petition seeks the diagnosis and assessment of mental health to be made mandatory in educational institutions.

The division bench of Chief Justice D N Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh asked the Delhi government and IHBAS to file a response to the petition of 17-year-old Devina Singh and listed the case for hearing on September 16.

Singh has sought implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, and relevant rules in educational institutions, especially in schools and colleges. Singh has moved the petition through her father Arun Singh. Senior advocate Sonia Mathur and advocate Rahul Kumar represented the petitioner.

The petition argues that several empirical studies have found a direct correlation between academic stress and sound mental health. “The issues like stress, anxiety, fear, panic, depression, insomnia, isolation, disconnectedness, loneliness and trauma, when left unattended and unaddressed, have a bearing on the outlook and performance of students,” it read.

“Untreated or inadequately treated mental illness is 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 added.

The petition also cites an RTI response received from Delhi government’s additional director, school health scheme, directorate general of health services, according to which “no specific steps with respect to implementation of Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, at school level, have been taken”.

Singh has also argued that the Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge psychological impact on the students and that the government and non-governmental organisations need to make a greater effort to communicate with young people.

“The sound mental health of students is as important as the right to clean air, nutrition, food and right to health as the deprivation of the same violates the dignity of the students,” the 17-year-old contends in the petition.

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