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Report No. 135

6.2. Admission to mental institutions.-

The Mental Health Act, 1987 contemplates the establishment of psychiatric hospitals and psychiatric nursing homes, which are the principal institutions in which persons mentally ill are to be treated (section 5). Admissions to such institutions for treatment may result: (i) from a request made by the mentally ill person or his guardian, or (ii) (even without such request) on the application of the relative or friend of the mentally ill person, subject to the observance of certain medical and other formalities.

Patients admitted under the former category are called "voluntary patients" (sections 16 to 18), while the patients admitted under the latter category are called "patients admitted under special circumstances" (section 19). Formal admission to a psychiatric institution is effected by a "reception order". The application for reception order may be made by the medical officer-in-charge of the psychiatric hospital or psychiatric nursing home or by the spouse or any other relative of the mentally ill person (section 20).

Section 2(1) of the Act defines a mentally ill person as meaning a person who is in need of treatment by reason of any mental disorder other than mental retardation. The police is also authorised to take into protection any person found wandering at large within the limits of the police station, where the police officer has reason to believe that such person is so mentally ill as to be incapable of taking care be himself. Subsequent proceedings take place before a Magistrate (sections 23 to 25).

A person who is merely mentally retarded does not, in general, come within the ambit of the Mental Health Act. The expression "mental disorder" itself is not defined in the Act but, if the mental disorder is of such a nature or magnitude that the treatment is needed, then the person suffering from it would become a mentally ill person.

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