Closing the care-gap

September 4, 2013 | Jayna Kothari

The new Mental Health Care Bill, 2013, based on the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and moves the current mental health care law from a medical to a social model based on human rights. Some of the progressive aspects of the new bill include the recognition of the legal capacity of persons with psycho-social disabilities and of advance directives, as well as the protection of the rights to equality and dignity. But the bill also has several conditions that could negate the guarantee of these rights. In this respect, the bill has been debated intensely within the disability community. Widely speaking, the need to decriminalise attempts to suicide have been considered by the courts, but only from the perspective of the right to life under Article 21 of the Constitution, not from a mental health perspective. By recognising the link between suicide rates and mental health, the bill is progressive in that it imposes a duty on the government to provide care, treatment and rehabilitation for a person with a mental illness and who has attempted suicide. However, the bill does not give any guidelines on how care and treatment should be provided for such vulnerable persons.


Jayna Kothari, 'Closing the care-gap' (04 Sep 2013) <> accessed on 20 Jun 2024