Govt drafts new mental health policy

April 11, 2017

The Himalayan Times, 10th April 2017, Kathmandu

The Ministry of Health has drafted a new National Mental Health Policy, which it said would soon be tabled at the Cabinet for approval.

Minister for Health Gagan Kumar Thapa said the policy was drafted in line with the constitution, which guarantees citizens’ right to remain mentally sound and live a dignified life.

Over two million children and teenagers are estimated to be affected by metal health problems of some form. Various studies show that mental problem is the leading cause of suicide among women of reproductive age (15-49 years). Similarly, prevalence rates of mental illness in Nepal suggest that about 20 per cent of the general population suffers from mental illnesses.

The policy aims to create an environment in which mental health is valued and promoted, mental disorders are prevented, and persons affected by these disorders are able to exercise full range of human rights and access high-quality, culturally-appropriate health and social care in a timely way.

It has adopted five policies in area of mental health to ensure easy availability and accessibility of basic quality mental health services for all citizens, prepare necessary human resources in order to deliver mental health and psycho-social service, protect the fundamental human rights of the people with psycho-social disability and mental illness, enhance public awareness to promote mental health and combat stigma resulting from mental illness, and promote and manage health information system and research.

According to a statement issued by the MoH, the policy also provides for a provision of allocating budget to the federal and provincial level on the basis of the burden of mental illness. The budget so allocated will be used for promotional, preventive, remedial and rehabilitation sectors. Similarly, the government will gradually establish a separate mental health unit in each government-run hospital, besides setting up mental health division under the ministry.

As per the policy, mental health care facilities will be developed not as passive recipients of mentally ill  patients for treatment, but as dynamic institutions actively engaged in interaction with the communities they serve. This interaction will include assessment of the communities’ mental health needs, the provision of intervention measures, and action as a coordinating agency for promoting mental health.

“The ministry has already instructed its subordinates to make necessary preparation to incorporate mental health in the budget and programme of upcoming fiscal to set up necessary institutional mechanism and formulate programmes for the implementation of the policy,” Minister Thapa said.