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This article is written by Rohan Priyam, a student of Jamia Millia Islamia and the article has been edited by Khushi Sharma (Trainee Associate, Blog iPleaders).

Table of Contents

Abstract

In the modern era, the problems related to mental healthcare among children have increased rapidly over the past few years. Section 63 of the Mental Health Act 1983 states that an approved clinician can provide medical treatment irrespective of whether or not a detained patient has the capacity to refuse such treatment during childhood, sound mental health is every bit as important as physical health for achieving developmental milestones. India is one of the countries in the world where the suicide rates are the highest. It helps children with their emotional well being and social skills. But during the times of COVID-19 the mental health of the children have been badly affected as it brought grief, fear, uncertainty, social isolation, increased screen time, and parental which have made them like zombies and has taken away their beautiful smiles and happiness. India has the potential to become World Superpower as it has the most youthful population in the world, but during the times of COVID-19 there has been great depression in terms of children mental health care in the country. We will try to know the importance of mental health issues among the children like Autism, Depression, Stress, Anxiety, Social Isolation etc. and will study in depth why issue of mental health care is a need for an hour among children, what policies should be adopted so as to improve the status and create awareness related to mental health care and most importantly we will be comparing India’s scenario with different nations in terms of its achievements and failure regarding children’s mental health during the times of COVID-19  .

Introduction

Meaning of mental health 

First of all we need to understand the meaning of mental health. Mental Health basically means a person’s condition with regard to their psychological and emotional well being and helps in determining how an individual feels and acts or how he makes healthy choices does. Mental health is important at every stage of life, from childhood and adolescence through adulthood. Some of the main groups of mental disorders are:

  • Mood disorders (such as depression or bipolar disorder);
  • Anxiety disorders;
  • Personality disorders;
  • Psychotic disorders (such as schizophrenia);
  • Eating disorders;
  • Trauma-related disorders (such as post-traumatic stress disorder);
  • Substance abuse disorders.

“In Section 115(1) notwithstanding anything contained in Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code any person who attempts to commit suicide shall be presumed, unless proved otherwise, to have severe stress and shall not be tried and punished under the said code. Section 1 of the Mental Health Act defines mental disorders, as defined by the Act if they are to be compulsorily detained using the Act. The Mental Health Act 1983 has been amended by the Mental Health Act 2007 (but is still termed the Mental Health Act 1983). 

History of mental disorder in India

Witches were the term which was used to refer to the ‘mentally ill’ people who were considered evil and all forms of abnormal behavior were believed to be acts of the ‘devil’ i.e. ‘Against God’ till about the 17th Century. The starting of the ‘mental hygiene’ movement resulted in the light the treatment meted to insane or mad people in asylums resulting in a strong reaction to the plights of the mentally ill.  

Ayurveda

Bhuta Vidya was a designated Psychiatry which was attributed to the sudden fear or association with the ill influence of certain mythological gods or demons. In various types of literature mental disorders are being represented in Ancient India. Provoked humours like Vatonmad, Pittonmad, and Kaphonmand were thought to be the angiogenesis of these disorders. The description of personality is to be in terms of Sathvik, Rajasik, and Tamasik representing intellectual and moral, emotional and passionate and impulsive respectively and Tamsik is more or less near mental sub normality or angry. Treatment of mental disorders mainly included psychotherapy, physiotherapy, shock, drug treatment, hypnotism, and religious discourses by Sages.   

Unani System

Seven types of mental disorders were described by Najabuddin Unhammad (1222 A.D.) namely-

  • Sauda-a-tabee (Schizophrenia);
  • Muree Sauda (Depression);
  • Ishk (Delusion of love);
  • Nisyan (Organic mental disorder);
  • Haziyan (Paranoid state);
  • Malikkholia-a-maraki (Delirium).

In Unani System, Psychotherapy was known as Ilaj-I-Nafsani in Unani medicine.

Siddha System

Yoga and Tapas as well as medicine are the things where Siddhis have achieved results and also ‘Siddhi’ means achievement. Appropriate treatment methods are described by Sage ‘Agatsya’ one of the 18 Siddhas who has contributed greatly to the Siddha System of medicine of the South. He formulated a treatise of mental diseases called as ‘Agastiyar Kirigai Nool’. 

Revolutionary in Psychiatry

The 3 major revolutions had taken place in the history of Psychiatry if we look at its present status. Sin and witchcraft are responsible for mental illness and the mentally ill who were chained in jails and asylum was the common belief when the First Revolution occurred. In the part of the society, they were considered as outcastes. Psychiatric disorders were explained in the second revolution which was the advent of psychiatric disorders. The integration of mental healthcare was the result of the development of community Psychiatry which resulted in the third revolution.

Mental illness to mental health: Indian perspective

One of the earliest Indian Psychiatrists Govindswamy in 1948 explained the importance of health. He gave 3 objectives of mental health-

  • Regaining of the health of a mentally ill person;
  • Prevention of mental illness in a vulnerable individual;
  • Protection and development at all levels of human society of secure, affectionate, and satisfying human relationships and in the reduction of hostile tensions in persons and groups.

The concept of Therapeutic Community was introduced by Maxwell Jones in 1953 and occupational therapy, recreational facilities, outdoor games, and picnics were some of the recreational activities which were started in a mental hospital as well as improved their conditions. Many hospitals were established for mentally ill people during the reign of King Ashoka. There are inscriptions on the walls at the Temple of Lord Venkateshwara at Tirumukkudal, Chingleput District in Tamil Nadu during the Chola Empire. Sri Veera Cholaeshwara Hospital was the name given to the hospital which contained 15 beds.

  • Maulana Fazulur-Lah-Hakim an Indian physician was in charge of the first Indian Mental Asylum I.e. Mandu Hospital opened by Mahmood Khilji at Dhar MP;
  • In approximately 1750 AD, Bombay Asylum was built in Modern India, which was followed up in the year 1794 where a Private Lunatic Asylum was opened at Kilpauk, Madras. The Central Mental Hospital Yerwada Pune was opened in 1889;
  • At Bangalore, the All India Institute Mental Health was set up in 1954 on the recommendation of the Bhore Committee (in 1946) which later on became the National Institute of Mental Health and Neurosciences in 1974. 

The Department of Psychiatry was set up in 1975 where Mental Health Unit (CMHU) was started on several recommendations by an expert committee of WHO in 1974. All the historical progress was made in the field of Psychiatry in India when for short-term training of primary care personal, a Rural Health Center was inaugurated in December 1976 at Sakalwar after all these developments. 

General viewpoint

India, the land of great opportunities, the most youthful country in the world and most importantly having the best minds in the world is facing problems related to mental healthcare among the children in the world. Children form the heart and soul of society and make the people around them happy with their everlasting smiles, the surroundings are echoed with children singing rhymes, poems, having the everlasting smile on their faces but since 1.5 years these smiles, these rhymes have been crushed under the influence of COVID-19, the pandemic which has taken away the smiles of millions of citizens around the world, where there is constant fear whether they would survive or not and most importantly many other negative vibes that have been associated with COVID-19 especially children’s mental health during the times of COVID-19 in India. The nationwide lockdown has affected the holistic and wholesome development among the children of all age groups because of which it has resulted in mental disorders, anxiety, stress, depression, loss of appetite, loneliness, etc Section 19 of the Mental Health Act 1983 and Regulations made under it enable a patient who is detained in hospital to be transferred to another hospital and to be detained in that hospital on the same basis. Section 21 extends the powers to transfer an accused to a mental health facility and their return to court to an authorized justice overseeing a bail hearing, while section 22 stipulates how an accused under the age of 18 can be transferred to a facility or return to court under these powers. 

The Mental Healthcare problem is the biggest cause of the problem from which Indian children suffer according to the status of Child and Adolescent Mental Health in India by NCBI.  A study which was conducted in Lucknow showed the prevalence of child and adolescent mental disorders as 12.1%, whereas disease-specific prevalence was 4.16% for nocturnal enuresis, 2.38% for pica, 1.78% for conduct disorders, and 1.26% for developmental disorders. And the similar study which was conducted in Bangalore as well showed a prevalence of 12.5% while the rate was 12.4% in rural areas, 10.8% in slums, and 13.9% (highest) in urban areas of the city. Report of prevalence of child and adolescent mental disorders varying from 1.06% to 5.84% in Rural Areas, 0.8% to 29.4% in urban areas and 12.5% to 16.5% were shown in several studies which were in both Rural as well as Urban areas conducted at a community level . 

Statistics on children’s mental healthcare in India during Covid-19

UNICEF report on the mental health impact of Covid-19 in children and young people

Compared to an average of 83 percent for 21 countries, UNICEF Survey across 21 countries it was seen that young people in India said that it is good to seek support for mental health problems, which was only 41 percent among the total respondents.

Around 14 percent of 15 to 24 years old in India or 1 in 7 reported often feeling depressed or having little interest in doing things. As low as one in ten in Ethiopia and Japan, and from almost one in three in Cameroon, one in seven in India and Bangladesh was the pattern which was shown by the survey findings which is previewed in the State of World’s Children Report 2021. 

There were two respondents, who were basically from the student’s category explained how the pandemic had interrupted their schooling and impacted their education and career aspirations making them angry and depressed during a case study. Theatre artist and career in medicine are the two professions which these children want to pursue in the future. People who are diagnosed with mental disorders are more than 1 in 7 adolescents in the age group of 10-19 according to the latest available estimates. The highest number of cases was recorded in South Asia among the adolescent group where mental disorders are mostly undiagnosed and hesitant in seeking help or treatment. 80-90 percent has not sought support, in 2019 even before the pandemic at least 50 million children in India were affected by health issues, according to the Indian Journal of Psychiatry.

The analysis was conducted by an NGO, Child Rights and You (CRY). The data has shown how child protection was comprised during the lockdown.

India’s failure in handling child’s mental health care during Covid-19

Crimes increased by 381%

In one decade, there has been a 381 percent increase.

Top five states

Among states, Madhya Pradesh recorded the maximum number of cases (13.2 percent), followed by Uttar Pradesh with 11.8 percent, Maharashtra (11.1 percent), West Bengal (7.9 percent), and Bihar (5.1 percent).

West Bengal, saw a 63 percent increase, replacing Delhi which topped the list in 2019.

Increase in child marriage cases

With 785 child marriage cases, there has been a rapid increase in child marriages where a 50 percent increase has been recorded under the prohibition of the Child Marriage Act. Numbers have jumped from 46 cases between November 2019 and March 2020 to 117 cases in the period of April-June and such a sorry state in terms of child marriage has been recorded in the heart of India i.e. Madhya Pradesh. The number increased to 58, during the first three months of the lockdown in the neighboring state of Chhattisgarh. 

Cyber and domestic problems

During the lockdown period, in the year 2020 92,000 calls were received on India’s children helpline number which was mostly related to child abuse in the country. An increase in cybercrimes, cyberbullying especially in the urban areas of Delhi, Mumbai, Kolkata, Chennai, Bangalore, Jaipur, Hyderabad, Lucknow, etc adds further woes and makes children addicted to mobile phones and vulnerable to cyberbullying, cyber crimes, etc. Most of the children are addicted to watching pornography on mobile phones because of this pandemic.

Even before the official restrictions kicked, in India there had been a 20% jump in consuming porn content according to data and according to Reports conducted by PORNHUB, the world’s biggest porn site, a 95% spike was reported in India to adult sites during the lockdown. Porn Hub Statistics showed an immediate jump of 40 percent in France when the country had its official lockdown period set in on March 17. A similar picture played out in Germany where the official lockdown date of March 22 coincided with a 25 percent increase in traffic to adult sites. Italy was the worst-hit nation in the world outside China in early March. There has been a 55 percent hike in consumption of adult content during March 9 in the country.

Child labour

Since 2016, according to the report which was conjointly prepared by International Labor Organization as well as the UNICEF, there has been significant rise in the number of children 5 to 11 years in terms of child labor and the number of children who are of age group between 5 to 17 years in hazardous working place, it has been noticed that their working environment is quite hazardous to their health, safety or morals which rose from 6.5 million to 79 million respectively.

70 percent of child labor (112) are engaged in the agricultural sector, followed by 20 percent in services (31.4 million) and 10 percent in the industry (16.5 million).

Children aged 12 to 14 years with regards to child labor are out of school and nearly 28 percent of children aged 4 to 11 years and 35 percent of children aged 12 to 14 years respectively are engaged in child labor. The prevalence of child labor in rural areas (14 percent) is close to three times higher than in urban areas (5 percent).

The menstrual problem among girl children and problems related to malnutrition

There are other challenges as well such as menstrual hygiene, lack of sanitary pads among the girl child, and vaginal diseases related to them.

18 years old girl child group reported an unmet need for sanitary pads and it was prevalent among 58 percent. This was according to the survey which was related to menstrual hygiene and girl child in India in 2020 in three states. 

Similar surveys have been conducted in various parts of the country and the conclusion which aroused and came into the limelight was as follows-  

  • They were unable to use sanitary napkins during the pandemic, resorted to unhygienic practices, which could lead to alarming consequences such as toxic shock syndrome, reproductive tract infections (RTI), and vaginal diseases. 
  • Beyond buffer and green zones, the provision of services through Adolescent Friendly Health Clinics (AFHC’s) under the National Adolescent Program varied across containment during the lockdown. 
  • There will be 410,413 and 392,886 additional cases of underweight and wasting respectively, 23 percent and 24 percent adolescents (5-9 years) and (10-19 years) age group respectively were considered thin for their age (BMI for age -2SD) according to the statistics.

Depletion in nutrition level

In developing countries like India, while formulating policy responses to Covid-19, the report which was prepared by Global Nutrition in 2020 had taken cognizance of the grave economic crisis due to COVID-19.  Inequalities in accessing food and healthcare in India and food supply and healthcare systems for the poor were the main emphasis of this policy.

 “School Closures, mobility restrictions to contain the spread of the pandemic and there has been a bad impact on the livelihoods, household, economic and security of marginalized families and also many other problems. Therefore, it was highly likely that it contributed to increasing children’s vulnerabilities to child labor, child marriage, child trafficking, as well as cases of gender-based violence,(CRY NGO FOUNDATION) India has spent only 0.05 percent of its health budget annually on mental health, according to Indian Journal of Psychiatry 2017. Diagnosed mental disorders, including ADHD, anxiety, autism, bipolar disorder, conduct disorder, depression, eating disorders, intellectual disability, and schizophrenia can harm children and young people’s health, education, life outcomes, and earnings. These problems have badly affected mental health as while the impact on children’s lives is incalculable, according to the World Health Organization, the Economic loss due to mental conditions between 2012-2030 is estimated to be USD 1.03 trillion in India, according to WHO 2020. 

National Crime Record Bureau 

In a single year a total of 1, 28,531 were being reported in-country, and statistics are really not good for a country like India.

Poor implementation of e-learning program

1.7 billion Students were out of school, which is really a shocking fact around the world according to some reports. The school-going children have faced the most difficult problems that are affected by the pandemic among all the sections of society. The proper, efficient, education with direction and most importantly valuable and practical under these circumstances is a need of an hour in the pandemic stricken world. E-learning was the possible solution that the whole world came up with and where teachers teach the students online and give important notes, lectures, and revision classes, etc which help in the holistic and wholesome development of the children, the teachers would be able to teach the syllabus according to the syllabus and many other benefits that can arise but all seems to be in vain due to the following reasons-

According to UNESCO, to combat problems which are related to mental stress, anxiety, depression, removing the typical stereotype mindset that the school environment can never come back, etc. Over 100 countries have implemented nearly 90% of the world’s student population e-leaning which was a very good initiative but exceptions are always there like in the case of India, the benefits that should be enjoyed by the e-learning platforms by each and every section of the society is not circulated well and hence most of the students are facing the problems in the country. There are so many problems related to online classes like there are regions in India where there is no proper access of the net services and thus they cannot learn the basic and important topics which are being taught by the teachers and hence these lead to more tensions, anxiety, stress, unnecessary pressure of competition, sleeping problems, weakness, tiredness, etc which is not good for the country like India.

E-Learning is not up to the mark. Village students, students living in remote areas, girl students are the worst sufferers of all. Students are bearing the brunt of both the pandemic as well as the online classes thus it is causing more harm than the benefits which makes them angry, tired, sad, underconfident, fatigued, loss of appetite, etc.

Millions of children are out of school according to World Bank Report. Acknowledging this impact on girls, “Girls globally have less access to the use of internet and cell-phone in comparison to boys”. This statement was given by the National Human Rights Commissioner for Human Rights which is really shameful for the whole world. Teachers and students should be introduced to the offline e-learning platform to supplement the normal classroom teaching and learning process so that students who do not have the access to the internet can benefit. Between 2020-2021, over 286 million children up to grade 6 were out of school in India according to Data from UNESCO. Digital classrooms could not be accessed by 60 percent of students; the education could not be completed by them according to UNICEF’s rapid assessment in 2021. 

The poor condition of children’s mental health care

The disease burden in India due to mental disorders increased from 2.5% in 1990 to 4.7% in 2017 in terms of DALY’s (Disability Adjusted Life Years) thus the leading contributor to YLD’s  (Years Lived with Disability). It resulted in a contribution to 14.5% of all YLD’s in the country (Indian State-Level Disease Burden Initiative 2017) according to the study by India State-Level Disease Burden Initiative. Suicide was found to be highest among the women in the country as well as depression, eating disorders, and anxiety and most importantly they were the most prevalent disorders in the country. During the pandemic and post-pandemic, the mental health issues among the age group less than 18 years of age cannot be neglected which is forty-one percent of India’s population. These effects are not limited to health and well-being but extend to many dimensions of children’s lives, their education, safety, and poverty (UNICEF 2020). 

Children’s mental healthcare has been under pathetic situation and proper mental counseling and webinars which should be conducted in order to have the proper mental health care and encouragement among the children in order to participate in various activities such as sports fest, educational fests, child’s interaction with their peer groups, teacher-children interaction and many other benefits such as missing basic nutrients, loneliness, being distant from playgrounds, overuse of the mobile phones, being mentally, emotionally, physically, spiritually exhausted are some of the disadvantages which are being faced by the children because of which it has raised concerns over the policies of the government related to mental health care issues handling among the children in India. 

Mishandling of situation during the third wave of covid-19

Another major problem that happened during the period of April-May was related to the deaths of family members of these children. As we all know that during this period a third wave of the corona virus came and because of that many children lost their family members due to lack of oxygen, emergency wards, emergency services that could not be provided on time, and many other problems because of which many children in India lost their mothers, fathers, grandfathers, grandmothers and other family members during the third wave of corona virus. These events affected their mental, as well as psychological health and hence their thinking abilities, were badly affected during the whole COVID-19 pandemic.

India and the world on mental health care among children

Countries such as France, India, the USA, China, the UK, Brazil, Russia, Italy, etc have been badly affected by the COVID-19 Pandemic and the daily cases in these countries are daily. Though significant steps have been taken by these countries still more work needs to be done especially related to mental healthcare among the children in these countries as they are the torchbearers of development and progress in these countries. Also, there has been a rise in the crimes such as robbery, murder, bullying, firearms, etc which has led to deterioration in the quality of crime control and most of the children have also lost their lives in this pandemic. Further, there has been no source of mental counseling in these countries which has led to a rapid rise in the mental disability problems in these countries. These countries largely contribute in the military, road, and transportation, shipping, aerospace, maintaining education, and even health sector but when it comes to handling the pandemic and mental healthcare among the children these countries have failed miserably, and most importantly the question that if the third wave comes in these countries wills they be able to it? Such questions give us mixed signals that a country like India which boasts its achievements in the UN and always comes first with topics related to Terrorism, Crime Records, Criticizing Pakistan on its Terror Funding Activities, Border Issues, Sports and Literature, and many other things. But will it raise its voice against the deteriorating children’s mental healthcare during the COVID-19? That’s a matter of concern among all the citizens of the country because, in the past, India has failed on its part related to Conventions and Agreements like Basel Convention, Kyoto Protocol, Paris Agreement, and many others where India has failed on its and this the new challenge which has to arise in front of India. So how will India handle the situation is the biggest concern among all the citizens of the country whether it will raise the same issue in the UN and whether the problem would be resolved as soon as possible.

India’s achievements in terms of handling mental healthcare among children during covid-19 

Though India has failed miserably in handling the mental healthcare situation among children during the pandemic, it has also gained some achievements as well. The government imposed a much needed nationwide lockdown in the country in March 2020 so that the fatality rates due to COVID-19 becomes less and hence the bold step which was taken proved to be worthy as it saved millions of lives around the country otherwise we would have seen people dying on the roads on the roads in lakhs or crores if lockdown hadn’t been imposed and would have caused further distress, anxiety, mental exhaustion, etc. Though the children were affected mentally and psychologically, the lockdown was a need of an hour otherwise we would have seen deaths of these innocent souls on the roads of many Indian cities such as Lucknow, Delhi, Mumbai, Chennai, Bangalore, Hyderabad, Nagpur, Jaipur, Pune, etc cities of India. One of the biggest achievements that India gained during this nationwide lockdown was cutting the chain of transmission of pandemics. 

E-learning platforms

The government also came with the idea of an E-learning Platform where these young students could learn many educational and recreational things which can refresh their minds, their souls and happily lift their moods. Also, these online platforms proved to be worthy for these students as they can learn many online courses, learn hacking and computer programming sitting in their homes, and upgrade their skills, knowledge, language, thinking abilities, etc. 

Adequate funding by the government and government mental health program

To deal with the problem of mental illness, The National Mental Health Program was launched by the Government of India (NMHP) in 1982 keeping in view the heavy burden of mental illness in the community and the absolute inadequacy of mental healthcare infrastructure. In 1996, The District Mental Health Program was being added:

Provision of funds 

Provision and funding are the most important things to realize the importance of funding in cases related to mental health care among children. The government has done a good part on this where it is given that spending on health by the government is not expenditure but a social investment and a social right. Under the National and District Mental Program, the ongoing activities should be expanded and strengthened continuously. Mental Health Program must be expanded and strengthened in a continuous manner. 

The government has done a good job on its part while implementing mental health program which now needs to be more strengthened and responsive manner during the times of COVID-19 in order to achieve a collaborative and sustainable response system.

The Protection of Children Against Sexual Offences Act (2012) (Posco Act)

U/5, 5 (k) of the POSCO Act, children with mental or physical disabilities have been given special consideration where any sexual assault with these children would be considered as an aggravated sexual offense. Special care, protection, and support are provided to a child victim with a mental or physical disability during trial and recording of evidence.

The Right of Children to (Free and Compulsory) Education Act, 2009 (RTE Act) 

The RTE Act u/5 2(d) and as amended to 2012 has considered children with disabilities as a disadvantaged group hence have the right to free education Section 17 of the Act focuses on prohibition of physical punishment and mental harassment to the child in the school which is a great step in the direction of mental health care of children in the school. Learning without fear is an essential element in measuring the learning outcomes and overall mental development of children

Child Welfare Committee

The Constitution (for every District of the State) of one or more Child Welfare Committees for exercising the powers and discharge the duties which are conferred on such committee in relation to the child in need of care and protection provided by the Juvenile Justice (Care and Protection of Children) Act 2000

Child Abuse Prevention Program

Sexual, Physical, and Emotional abuse are prevented by school-based activities which is the main aim of the program. Awareness and orientation of parents, sensitization of staff members and workshops for students Information dissemination regarding support system, i.e. NGO, Police, Hospital, etc. 

Mental Health Care in a special school

The whole school is included, except the scale of it which is much larger in the infrastructure and facilities at a special school which is similar to the special needs department/ learning center of an inclusive integrated school. The specialized services will, no doubt, be determined by the special population that is unique to each school 

  • Mental health training for faculty and staff;
  • Information and awareness about ragging/ bullying;
  • Awareness of deliberate self-harm and suicide prevention activities; 
  • Health fair;
  • Student health care center;
  • Peer-to-peer support and mentoring.

Indian Cybercrime Coordination Centre Scheme

  • An outlay of Rs 415.86 Crore;
  • To act as a nodal point in the fight against cybercrime;
  • Identify the research problems/ needs of LEAs and take up R and D activities in forensic tools in collaboration with academia/research institutes within India and abroad;
  • To prevent misuse of cyber space for furthering the cause of extremist and terrorist groups;
  • Suggest amendments, if required, in cyber laws to keep pace with fast-changing technologies and International Cooperation;
  • To coordinate all activities related to the implementation of Mutual Legal Assistance (MLAT) with other countries related to cybercrimes in consultation with the concerned nodal authority in MHA.

National Cybercrime Reporting

  • Facilitate reporting of all types of cyber crime incidents with a special focus on cyber crime against women and children;
  • Automated routing to concerned State/UT based on information furnished in the reported incident for appropriate action in accordance with law;
  • The reported incidents are facilitated to view the status of actions taken regarding complaints.

In August 2019, the Prison Statistics of India (PSI) Report was released by NCRB, which documented 1775 inmate deaths under judicial custody. During the COVID-19 national lockdown from March 25 to April 30, canning and bating which were included in the police action was compiled by the Commonwealth Human Rights Initiative which included a list of 15 fatalities.

Integrated Rural Development Program (IRDP)

Since its inception in 1979, the Integrated Rural Development Program which is one of the largest micro-enterprises in the world has reached 50 million borrowers. The main aim of the program is to raise the incomes of the poor beneficiaries to a level that is above the poverty line by requiring the banks to extend loans to them for the purchase of assets, and by subsidizing 25 to 50 percent of the cost of the assets. Centre and State centrally sponsor the scheme which is being implemented on a 50-50 basis.

The rationale for rural works program

There are under-estimates that have been recorded in NSS Rates of under-employment. If a person had some productive work, a certain quantum of work in three days would actually require only one day for a person where the whole family may do the work. Measurement of employment without prescribing standard work norms is quite hazardous. Secondly, due to lack of perception of employment opportunities, withdrawals from the labour force of those who are usually/currently in the labor force during daily or weekly count are not always voluntary.

Mental Healthcare Act 2017: child and adolescent perspectives

The Mental Healthcare Act 2017 aims to provide mental healthcare services for persons with mental illness. Persons having the right to live life with dignity by not being discriminated against or harassed are ensured by the Act. Right to Protection from cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment (k) to be protected from all forms of physical, verbal, emotional, and sexual abuse and to promote, protect and fulfill the rights of such persons during delivery of mental healthcare and services and for matters connected therewith with incidental thereto. The Act effectively decriminalized attempted suicide which was punishable under Section 309 of the Indian Penal Code. Mental Healthcare Act 2017 superseded Mental Health Act 1987 on 22 May 1987. It basically states the determination of the mental illness which can be determined in accordance with nationally and internationally accepted medical standards (including the latest edition of the International Classification of Disease of the World Health Organization) as may be notified by the Central Government. An individual as a person with mental illness unless he is directly in relation with the treatment of the illness is asserted by the Act where the Act clearly mentions no person or authority shall classify the same.

Case laws related to mental health  in India

  • Robert Hejikamp and Anr. Vs Bal Anand World Children Welfare;
  • Uma Manickam Vs The Inspector of Police;
  • Bhagwan Vs State ;
  • Kerala State Legal Services Vs State of Kerala.

Conclusion  

After all the above discussions, the possible outcomes and suggestions that can be concluded are as follows:

  • Child Mental Welfare Mental Health Care Program Schemes in India should be strictly followed by each and every district, rural area, towns and regular research works and statistics should be followed up in relation to the present scenario
  • Child Atrocities Act should be improved in the country so that no children regardless of which region or area he belongs to should be protected and proper mental health counseling should be organized under this Act.
  • Organizations such as National Crimes Records Bureau, Interpol, D-Company, etc should collaborate with the doctors of the AIIMS, Maulana Azad Medical College, Psychiatrists, Counselors, etc so that the increasing crime rates in India could be stopped.
  • Problems related to the Mental Health Care Programs should be improved by webinars, seminars, government organizations, etc.
  • All the nations of the world should come to one Medical Council in order to tackle the problems related to mental health care among the children in the world. India should be the leading country among all the nations and it should justify its programs related to mental health awareness, acts, and sections which it has made related to mental health care, etc.
  • Schools should promote the mental awareness week campaign especially for the disadvantaged children, people belonging from poor backgrounds, and many other sections.
  • Special Care should be taken regarding female child sanitary napkins and vaginal health care programs should be organized to take into consideration the mental health care among the women during the times of COVID-19.
  • No comparisons should be made between the students related to their academic marks or other achievements especially during these tough times and co-curricular as well as sports activities programs should be organized through webinars at e-learning platforms.
  • It is important that the children should be reassured by the parents during these tough times, their concerns should have been listened to them and their queries should be answered related to the outbreak. Spending quality time with time is a need of an hour during these tough times.
  • Managing the child’s anxiety is the prime responsibility of any parent and hence their emotional cues should not be overlooked by them and the parents should not be judgmental when they express their feelings. Their questions should not be avoided by them related to COVID and they should not speak harshly with their children because this can increase fear and anxiety.
  • Parents should engage with their children in indoor activities where these children get bored. Involving them indoors to cut down the boredom is the greatest solution to make them happy, stress less, have freedom from mental anxiety, depression, sadness, etc.
  • They should be encouraged to have contact with their friends through video calls or mobile phones because physical meeting is difficult during these tough times and they should also be encouraged to be involved in fun activities, recreational activities, and many other platforms to refresh their minds.
  • The routine of learning should be encouraged by the parents as the schools are closed and ensuring regular habit of studying would improve their knowledge, skills and hence parents can give them small assignments and can check their progress reports through these assignments and hence should encourage them to inculcate the habit of learning something every day new.

Students of Lawsikho courses regularly produce writing assignments and work on practical exercises as a part of their coursework and develop themselves in real-life practical skills.

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