Plans are underway to present a new Mental Health Act to replace the 137 year old act which is currently in operation. The President of the College of Psychiatrists Dr. Jayan Mendis said that they had drafted a new act with necessary modifications to the old act which is outdated in today`s context.
`There are new developments in the field of mental health and to have a new act adequately covering the recent developments is a long felt need. With the drafted act, it is expected to fill the vacuum`, he said.
Meanwhile, a new national policy on mental health has been introduced last year to enable the reorientation of national health services in all 24 districts. Steps are taken to set up rehabilitation centres in main cities to look after chronically ill patients. The community mental health services will be upgraded by deploying mental health workers at village level to minimise the deterioration from illnesses. Measures are also taken to establish a national research centre to ascertain the progress and the follow-up necessary.
Among the proposed action are to have a psychiatrist and a psychiatrist unit each in every district. There are only 30 psychiatrists in the country where the field of mental health is concerned. There is a dearth in this profession with the increasing number of patients seeking treatment. It is timely and necessary to produce more professionals to meet the demand of the patients, Dr. Mendis stressed.