The basic idea of human rights is the fact that they are not excusable; therefore these are rights that are granted by virtue of being ‘human’. On the occasion of Erwadi Day in Pune, the Schizophrenia Awareness Association (SAA) put forth the fact that basic human rights should be granted to everyone, even those with a mental illness.
It further claimed that even the family of the mentally ill must be kept aware of their rights.
Since 2001, Erwadi day is celebrated. Erwadi, is a village in Tamil Nadu, where a fire accident at a religious centre which led to 28 mentally ill patients, who were tied up in a mental asylum.
“If there are no rights to these patients that means they do not have any identity,” said Dr Kaustubh Joag, a psychiatrist from Pune, who was invited to give a special talk on human rights of mentally ill patients.
He said that rights like voting rights, right to buy property, right to motherhood are not granted to these patients. He also said that new rules and regulations that will be out soon will make provision on all these things which were denied earlier.
“The new bill recognizes the capacity of mentally ill patient. When mentally ill patient is in a state to take decisions, the new rules and regulations will give many of the rights to such person which were denied earlier,” added Dr Joag.
There would be multiple provisions for granting human rights. “It will have a provision of making ‘advance directive’ by a patient through which patient will give directives in advance on what should be done with him or her if he becomes mentally ill. It will also have a provision of ‘nominated representative’ where a mentally ill patient at the time of his sound mind, can nominate a person on his or her behalf,” he added.
Many a times, while taking treatment, human rights of mentally ill patients are violated. Nilima Bapat, Secretary, SAA, said, “A patient’s consent should be taken while administering any medicine or giving any kind of treatment if the patient is in the good recovery stage. Mentally ill patients should be treated like any other human with complete respect.”