Karnataka Cabinet approves state Mental Healthcare Act to help people amid COVID-19

The legislation will help in providing healthcare and services for persons with mental health issues.
Basavaraj Bommai
Basavaraj Bommai
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The Karnataka Cabinet on Thursday, August 19, approved the implementation of the Karnataka State Mental Healthcare Act 2021, and said that it will go a long way in helping the society deeply affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. The legislation helps in providing healthcare and services for persons with mental health issues. It will protect, promote and fulfil the rights of persons in need of treatment for mental health, JC Madhuswamy, Minister for Law, Parliamentary Affairs and Legislation said on Thursday after the Cabinet meeting in Bengaluru.

Under the Act, a State Mental Health Authority will be set up and a committee under the Chairmanship of the Director of the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences (NIMHANS) Institute will be constituted for drafting guidelines for the authority. The authority will also maintain a registry and publish a list of clinical psychologists, nurses, social workers and health workers in the field of mental health. The state act is being implemented in tandem with the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 announced by the Union government.

The minister was quoted by Times of India as saying that amidst the pandemic, social and economic concerns like job loss, loss of income, death of family members, fear, etc triggered mental health conditions amongst the people. The state government has sanctioned Rs 478 crore for upgradation of 2,859 sub-centres of the Health Department across the state considering the COVID-19 situation, Madhuswamy informed the media. He said that it has been decided to augment the strength of nurses and staff for the hospitals on a three-year contract basis.

Madhuswamy stated that the government is prepared to face the anticipated third wave of coronavirus pandemic and there is no need to panic. "We are initiating necessary steps by strengthening the health sector," he said. The government has also decided to provide Rs 47 crore to distribute sanitary pads to girl students in government and aided colleges in the state under the 'Shuchi' programme.

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