New Delhi: The NHRC chairperson, justice H.L. Dattu expressed concern over the fact that the mental health care in the country is facing a huge gap between the requirements and availability of facilities in the sector. He was inaugurating a day-long NHRC National Level Review Meeting on Mental Health at India International centre, here on Wednesday.

Justice Dattu said that there is a requirement of 13500 psychiatrists but only 3827 are available. Against the requirement of 20250 clinical psychologists only 898 are available. Similarly, there is an acute shortage of para– medical staff also.

Justice Dattu, while flagging it as a matter of serious concern for the Commission, said that consistent with its policy to monitor the mental health sector, it felt necessary to evaluate the ground realities post implementation of Mental Healthcare Act, 2017.

The NHRC chairperson also raised the issue of prisoners having mental health problems and said that the protection of the rights of such prisoners is an obligation of the State governments under Section 103 of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 as also emphasized by the Supreme Court in one of its recent judgments.

The union health special secretary, Sanjeeva Kumar, said that 10.6 percent adult population in the country suffers from mental health issues, which is a huge number requiring holistic concept of safety nets, legal frameworks and medical care facilities. He said that only 19 States have implemented the Mental Healthcare Act so far.

NHRC member justice P. C. Pant, secretary general Jaideep Govind union health secretary Preeti Sudan and union health joint secretary, Dilip Kumar were present in the review meeting.