POST TIME: 3 January, 2018 12:14:55 AM / LAST MODIFIED: 3 January, 2018 12:03:31 PM
New act to protect rights of mentally ill people

New act to protect rights of mentally ill people

More than a century after the Lunacy Act 1912 was put in place, the government will enact a new law titled the ‘Mental Health Act 2018’ to protect the rights of mentally ill people. The health ministry has already prepared a draft of the act. It is likely to be placed at the Cabinet meeting today for approval, said sources in the health ministry. According to the draft act, a special Mental Illness Affairs Tribunal will be set up in all the 64 districts to try the cases related to mentally ill people, the sources added.

Health secretary Md Sirajul Haque Khan told The Independent that they will enact the Bangladesh Mental Health Act in a time-befitting manner to protect the rights of mentally ill people.

“There are so many mentally ill people in our society, and we should protect and ensure their rights. The proposed act will help us do so,” he said.

The health secretary said that these days minors are more prone to mental illness than adults. He added that they will form an authority after enacting the law.

According to Clause 23 of the draft Mental Health Act, the ‘Mental Illness Affairs Tribunal’ will be set up in all the districts under the district judge for speedy trial of the cases related to mental illness. “All offences under the proposed act will be cognizable, non-compoundable, and bailable, and the court will take cognizance of the offences through the court itself, a complaint, or report,” the clause adds.

Sources said mental health is a global problem and ranks fourth in the list of top ten deadly diseases.

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), more than 450 million people in the world suffer from neuropsychiatric disorders. In Bangladesh, 15 million people suffer from mental illnesses of various types.

According to the first national survey on mental health conducted by the WHO in 2003–05, 16.1 per cent adults and 18.04 per cent children suffer from mental illness. Women (19 per cent) are more vulnerable to mental illness than men (12.9 per cent) in the country.

At least 10,000 people commit suicide especially due to mental health problems every year in the country.