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Court pulls up government for non-functional homes for mentally ill

Half-way homes serve as a stop-gap place for people who have undergone treatment for mental illness before they venture into the real world.

By: PTI | New Delhi |
December 16, 2016 8:20:02 pm
Centre, Delhi government, non-functional homes, mentally ill, Delhi High Court, half-way homes, India news, Indian Express Photo for representational purpose

Non-operationalisation of stay homes for mental patients has irked a court which pulled up the Centre and the Delhi government for not prioritising and taking serious initiatives on the issue saying the state of affairs is “really worrying”.

The court said when the situation is “so warranting and perilous”, why the Delhi and the central governments have not taken steps to expedite the construction and functioning of ‘half-way’ homes, long-stay homes and day-care centres in a time-bound manner as directed by the Delhi High Court.

Metropolitan Magistrate Abhilash Malhotra’s remarks came while hearing an application by short-stay home ‘Nirmal Chhaya’ seeking transfer of a mentally-ill woman to some other home meant for such patients.

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Half-way homes serve as a stop-gap place for people who have undergone treatment for mental illness before they venture into the real world.

The high court had in 2009 passed directions for making half-way homes after a public interest litigation was filed on the issue.

The court said state of affairs regarding establishment and operationalisation of mental health institutions is really worrying and due to non-operationalisation of the stay homes, the mental health patients are constrained to live in places where there are no special facilities to cater to their needs.

“Apart from that, NGOs are also unwilling to accomodate these patients. The Delhi and the central governments have already shown their helplessness on this issue…

“If the situation is so alarming in the capital, the issue needs to be explored and investigated for the rest of the country also,” the court said.

To cater the mental health needs as well as to safeguard human rights of the patients, it said it is necessary to take assistance of the State Authority for Mental Health Services constituted under Section 4 of Mental Health Act, 1987 as well as the National Human Rights Commission and issued notice to both the authorities for December 26, the next date of hearing.

The court asked the two authorities to assist in finding a suitable home for the woman patient so that her mental health and medical needs can be addressed and her human rights can be safeguarded.

Meanwhile, on being informed by the Delhi government’s Department of Social Welfare that possession of half-way home in Rohini has been handed over to the Institute of Human Behaviour and Applied Sciences (IHBAS), the court issued notice to IHBAS to apprise it about its status.

The court, which had earlier asked the Department of Social Welfare and the Ministry of Women and Child Development to look into the matter and find a suitable home for the patient, said the two authorities have failed to come out with any solution.

It had earlier also rapped the authorities for their “apathetic” attitude and lack of sensitivity on the issue, saying this had caused files to move at a snail’s pace in the bureaucratic corridors.

It had said the issue of half-way homes, long-stay homes, day-care institutions and pay-and-stay institutions was of utmost importance as there was an “urgent need” to provide best treatment and facilities to mentally ill patients.

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