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Belal Muntasir
The government is going to take massive initiatives to improve mental healthcare services across the county, protecting ill-persons’ dignity, ensuring their rights to properties, rehabilitation and overall betterment.
The state has recently enacted a law to this end. The country’s 16.1 percent of adults and 18.4 percent of children are suffering from various mental disorders, figures provided by World Health Organization (WHO) say.

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. Monitoring committee in every district
  2. Protecting patients’ rights
  3. Medical college or more hospitals
  4. Separate units in district hospitals
  5. Establishing rehabilitation centres
  6. Judicial inquiry to determine mental state

On the other hand, National Institute of Mental Health and Hospital in one of its recent research found that more than 2.25 crore people in the country are affected by mental disorders and the number is increasing day by day.
The implementation of the government’s plan will bring a revolutionary change by boosting mental healthcare services in the country, specialists and experts believe.
Dr Muhammad Kamruzzaman Mozumder, chairperson, Department of Clinical Psychology at Dhaka University said Bangladesh lagged far behind in providing mental healthcare services. The enactment of the Mental Health Act 2018 is a revolutionary initiative taken up by the government in this respect, he told Bangladesh Post. According to the act, the government will form a five-member committee in every district to review mental health and monitor the services.
The deputy commissioners will be the president of the committee that will also include the civil surgeon, the deputy director of district social welfare office, the district women’s affairs officer and a psychologist or mental health experts.
The committee’s jurisdiction and functions will be determined with an order, according the law.
However, the government can set up new hospitals, medical college in any place of the country to provide medical service for the ill persons, said section 6 of the act.
Besides, separate unit or department may be opened in every district-level hospital. Drug addicts, accused persons under trial, and children will get care there separately.
Patients can be admitted to those medical centres by their guardians or relatives even if they do not agree to get admitted.
Besides, the representatives from local government will ensure healthcare for mentally disordered patients who have no guardian by bringing them to the nearest mental hospital.
For such types of patients, the government will set up rehabilitation centres so that they can get post-medical cares.
Besides ensuring treatment, the act ensures patients’ rights to property, dignity, education and other rights.
Besides, the act keeps a provision of judicial inquiry to determine the patient’s mental condition, where it said the guardian or relative can apply the court to be confirmed whether the claiming person suffer from mental illness or not.
Later, the court can order the medical officers concerned to diagnose the person’s mental health.
The medical officer will submit a report about the person’s mental health and his ability to protect and maintain property.
The government has strongly focused on victims’ right to properties as in most cases mentally-ill persons are deprived of his wealth.
The law has directed as to who will maintain the person’s properties.
Primarily, the concerned medical officer will inform the patient’s guardian about the harm of his properties.
In case of missing the guardian or their unwilling, the medical officer vested that to the court, and the court will finally decide how the properties will be protected.
Dr Mozumder believes the positive initiatives of the government will bring in a marked improvement in country’s mental healthcare.
However, aside from the initiatives to protect mental health, the government should increase the number of doctors and psychologists to protect mental health, he suggested.
He said there are fewer doctors or psychologists than necessity to provide mental healthcare service in the country.
There are only 350 doctors (psychiatrists) for more than one crore 60 lakh patients who need regular treatment, he said.
On the other hand, there are only 55 clinical psychologists and 200 counseling psychologists in the country.
The numbers are meagre when compared to the huge number of patients suffering from mental illness, he added.

Where to go in case of feeling mental illness?
If any of your relatives or close persons or you are currently feeling any mental complexities, you can take healthcare services from following institutes.
1. Nasirullah Psychotherapy unit, Clinical Psychology Department, University of Dhaka
Service: Counseling and Psychotherapy
(Children to Adults)
2. Bangabandhu Sheikh Mujib Medical University (known as PG hospital)
Service: Counseling and Psychotherapy
(Children to Adults)
3.Department of mental health, Dhaka Medical College
Service: Counseling and Psychotherapy
(Children to Adults)
4.One stop crisis center, Dhaka Medical College
Service: Counseling
(Only for oppressed women and child)
5. National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), Sher-e-Bangla Nagor, Dhaka
Services: Treatment and counselling
(Child to Adult)