Covid-19: NHRC points advisory to Centre, states

Ravi S Singh

Tribune News Service

New Delhi, October 13

The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has issued advisory on rights of patients with mental illness in context of COVID-19 pandemic to the Union Health Ministry and Chief Secretaries of all the States/UTs.

The recommendations include mental health support to police personnel to deal with their mental issues during the distressing period of the pandemic.

Experts in field of mental illness have lauded the advisory of the Commission. “It is timely and much needed in the distressing times of the pandemic,” Meena Gupta, a counsellor, therapist and trainer, said.

The commission has recommended providing patients with mental illness (PMIs) and their caregivers information making them aware about Covid-19 and their rights.

It wants operation of 24×7 Help Desk (centralised Call Centre) facility with nodal person(s) designated in each district for helping the patients and their care givers.

The proposed centres should provide the information on availability of beds in hospitals. 

Every patient with mental health condition should be provided access to care and treatment run or funded by state and Central governments.

Policy should be made for testing and treatment of homeless persons with mental illness.

Also, keeping all precaution in place, adequate recreational activities may be provided for in-patients to reduce their stress and sense of isolation.

The commission has laid stress on “right of confidentiality” of patients with some prescribed exceptions promoting their welfare.

With regard in-patient care for psychiatrist illness, it stressed non-disruption of their treatment in wards during the times of Covid. 

It also pitched for providing police personnel the services of psychologists in each district specifically to provide mental health support to help deal with their mental issues.

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