At the very least

Though mentally disturbed people are more vulnerable to violence and harder to take care of than those physically afflicted, the provisions in the Muluki Ain (Civil Code) are far from enough. However, the government’s plan to introduce draft legislation on mental health in a month is expected to provide some hope regarding the guarantee of basic rights of such people and care for their peculiar problems. The proposed Bill seeks to address their right to property and to treatment, as well as the government’s responsibility as regards their rehabilitation. In addition, it seeks to define the role of the family members and the local administration.

The Maoist insurgency has had a telling effect on the psychological health of most members of the warring groups and the civilians, including innocent children. Mental illness is estimated to have affected 30 per cent of the population at one time or the other but the availability of 30 psychiatrists, that, too, mostly based in the capital, shows the magnitude of the problem at hand. Even without the Maoist conflict, the number of mental patients and the seriousness of their problems were not negligible. This stresses the need to equip and strengthen

psychiatric treatment centres in all the development regions, at the very least. Half the battle can be won through proper diagnosis in time. Mental diseases imply the availability of services of trained counsellors at frequent intervals. Efforts at government, corporate and people’s levels, supported by foreign goodwill, could go a long way in handling the problems of the mentally ill.