The Bombay High Court has sought “cogent” data from the State Mental Health Authority (SMHA) and the Maharashtra State Legal Services Authority (MSLSA) on the number of patients discharged from mental health institutions in the state.
A division bench of Justices Nitin Jamdar and Abhay Ahuja passed the order while hearing a petition filed by psychiatrist Dr Harish Shetty, highlighting the plight of patients languishing in mental hospitals despite being cured or even when they are not seriously mentally ill.
Advocate Pranati Mehra, appearing for Dr Shetty, showed an MSLSA report which stated that 569 patients were reunited with their families. However, she said that there is no clarity whether it includes patients from government hospitals.
Separate data not available
Representative of MSLSA, Milind Todkar, admitted that separate data is not available. He informed the HC that a segregation will be made between private and government hospitals and further reports will be placed on record.
Mehra and senior advocate JP Sen, who was appointed as amicus curiae (friend of the court) pointed out that the data required for rehabilitation or reunion of patients who are in these institutions for an extended period, which is a more acute problem in government hospitals.
During the hearing, Mehra pointed out to the court a newspaper report which stated that a patient, admitted at Thane Regional Mental Hospital for schizophrenia, was found with multiple injuries. His family alleged he was beaten up. She submitted a 24x7 helpline with a toll free number that must be provided for families of patients to seek help in case of emergency.
Senior advocate Vishwajeet Sawant, appearing for SMHA, said such a helpline exists. He further said that they will create posters with the helpline and toll-free numbers and mandatory directions will be issued to all mental health institutions to display such posters.
Earlier the state had signed a memorandum of standing with NGO, Shraddha Rehabilitation Centre, for rehabilitation of cured patients.
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