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Ensure mental healthcare amid Covid: NHRC to Govt.

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 Rohit Shishodia
The National Human Rights Commission (NHRC) has recommended various measures, including affordable mental healthcare, integrating mental health care in Ayushaman Bharat and treatment of the homeless, to the Central and state governments for ensuring treatment of mental health and Covid 19 to persons with mental illness.

An NHRC advisory to all union ministries and chief secretaries of states and union territories has recommended providing affordable treatment of mental illnesses in private and government hospitals, or that charges may be regulated.

The NHRC has said that suitable, isolation wards should be made available in every Mental Health Establishment to avoid and minimize the spread of infection to others.

The commission has advised screening of all Persons with Mental Illness (PMI) in all OPDs for flu like symptoms and tested for Covid as per Indian Council of Medical Research Guidelines. All PMIs admitted in the hospitals should be tested for the deadly infectious disease.

“There should be a policy for testing and treatment of homeless people with mental illness. If the photo ID of the person is not available, it may not be insisted upon. No PMI should be denied treatment in a public or private hospital due to lack of Covid 19 negative results,” said the NHRC.

The commission has recommended that insurance companies of the private and government sector should make provision for medical insurance for treatment of mental illness. Government may operationalize and implement insurance for mental health problems as part of Ayushman Bharat.

“A range of appropriate mental health services such as acute mental healthcare, halfway homes, sheltered accommodation, community based rehabilitation services, medicines, psychiatric emergency and OPD services may be made available in community health centers, public health systems and underserved areas,” reads the NHRC advisory.


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