Parliament will reconvene this afternoon for Members to discuss the Mental Health Bill 2014. The Bill progressed to the second reading on Tuesday and members are reviewing clauses within the bill that require amendment.
During the sitting on Tuesday, Minister of State for Health, Sarah Opendi clarified that mental health focal persons will be appointed by Chief Administrative Officers. Adding that these will be selected from nurses, clinical officers and psychiatrists.
Hon. Joshua Anywarach recommended basic preventive and curative mental health packages including counselling, guidance, employee assistance programs.
During plenary, Hon Jacob Oboth told the house that the bill seeks to address the structure of mental health services but lacks a lot in mental health treatment.
This prompted Speaker Rebecca Kadaga to direct Oboth to draft a proposal for discussion in the consecutive plenary.
The objective of the mental health bill 2014 is to provide for care and treatment for persons with mental illness, at primary health centers: to provide for admission, for treatment and for discharge from health units and mental health units of persons with mental health.
The bill also seeks to ensure that persons with mental illness are enabled to seek treatment voluntarily: to ensure the safety and protection of persons with mental illness and the protection of their rights and the safety of the people who come into contact with them. It further seeks to establish the Mental Health Advisory Board.
The Bill operationalises the National l-Iealth Policy which identifies mental health services as an essential aspect of healthcare. The overall objective of the Mental Treatment Act is to remove persons with mental disorders from society and keep them in confinement without serious consideration for clinical care.
The policy advocates for mental health services at all levels to be integrated into general healthcare and prescribes for the update and enforcement of appropriate laws to promote mental health.
The current Mental Treatment Act (of 1 964) is outdated and does not take into account the discovery of medicines and other treatment interventions that have revolutionized the care of persons with mental disorders. The current law has no provision for voluntary admission to hospital or other health facilities. The procedure of admitting, discharging or adjudging persons with mental disorders is not feasible in the present context where the numbers are quite big.
The proposed Mental Health Bill seeks to bring the care and management of people with mental health problems in line with the principles of the National Health Policy.
The Bill takes into account the current evidence based approaches of managing mental health problems.