New Delhi Aug 2(ILNS): The Delhi High Court today sought a response from the Delhi Government and the Institute of Human Behaviour & Allied Sciences (IHBAS) on a petition concerning the rights of students in schools and colleges with respect to mental health issues.
The Division Bench comprising Chief Justice D.N. Patel and Justice Jyoti Singh issued a notice in the petition filed by a Class XII student, alleging non-implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, in the educational institutions.
Senior Advocate Sonia Mathur represented the petitioner, while Advocate Anuj Aggarwal appeared on behalf of the Delhi Government. The matter is slated for the next hearing on September 16.
The public interest litigation has been filed by the father of a minor girl on her behalf through Advocate Rahul Kumar, seeking implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act 2017, which came into effect on May 29, 2018, at schools and colleges for the benefit of the students; as also the constitution of a mental health establishment, including a clinic or center in schools and colleges of all districts across the country, in accordance with the Act.
In addition, the petition prayed for the presence of clinical psychiatrists, counselors, social workers and mental health professionals in each school and college of the district. It sought for directions to make diagnosis and assessment of mental health mandatory in each school and college; along with the implementation of the National Mental Health program for awareness and promotion of mental health of students in each school and college.
Lastly, the plea prayed for a direction to conduct mental health survey for data collection at schools and colleges for the mental health assessment of students on a regular basis.
The petition alleged that the petitioner moved an RTI application on January 8, 2021, before the Department of Health and Family Welfare, Delhi Government, seeking queries regarding the implementation of the Mental Healthcare Act, 2017, at the school level.
The petitioner further made a representation on May 26, 2021, to the Directorate General of Health Services, Delhi Government, wherein it informed, “No specific steps with respect to the implementation of Mental Healthcare Act, 2017 at school level have been taken by the school Health scheme till date. Stress, anxiety, fear, panic, depression, insomnia, isolation, disconnectedness, loneliness, trauma, lack of self-confidence, positivity, and resilience are issues widely prevalent in students, however, the same go unnoticed and unattended.
“While academic pressure and other unexpressed fears force the students affecting their academic performance and well-being, they do not have the capabilities and means to cope with the same. The issues are further compounded due to the lack of adequate attention from institutional support mechanisms,” added the plea.
“The Covid-19 pandemic has had a huge psychological impact on the students in schools. The Mental health in children manifests in many ways, from insomnia to eating disorders to emotional swings to self-harming, all of which can be treated given the right interventions,” the plea added further./ILNS/KR/SV/SNG