An analysis of Nepal's Draft Mental Health Acts 2006-2017: Competing values and power

Jane Stephens, Padam Simkhada, Edwin van Teijlingen, John Porter, Julian Eaton

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This qualitative study maps the process of drafting and consulting on Nepal's mental health legislation from 2006 to 2017. A total of 14 people were interviewed and interviews were analysed thematically. These themes were subsequently interpreted in light of Shiffman and Smith's policy analysis framework, as the process was found to be at the agenda-setting stage. Two groups of actors were identified with different views on appropriate policy content and how the policy process should be conducted. The first group included psychiatrists who initiated and controlled the drafting process and who did not consider people with psychosocial disabilities to be equal partners. The psychiatrists viewed forced detention and treatment as upholding people's right to health and lobbied the Ministry of Health and Population (MoHP) to pass the draft acts to parliament. The second included the rights-based civil society actors and lawyers who saw the right to equality before the law as of utmost priority, opposed forced detention and treatment, and actively blocked the draft acts at the MoHP. There is no clear legal definition of mental health and illness in Nepal, legal and mental capacity are not differentiated, and people with mental and behavioural conditions are assumed to lack capacity. The analysis indicates that there were few favourable conditions to support the progression of this policy into law. It is unclear whether the drafters or blockers will prevail in the future, but we predict that professionals will continue to have more input into content than service users due to national policy dynamics.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)499-508
Number of pages10
JournalHealth Policy and Planning
Issue number5
Early online date26 Apr 2024
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2024

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