China media: New mental health law

bbc.co.uk 1st May 2013

A number of new laws take effect in China today. The mental health law, which has taken almost 27 years to draft, attracts most media attention.

According to Xinhua News Agency, the law requires consent from mentally ill patients before they receive inpatient treatment, with the exception of those severely ill or who have the potential to harm themselves or others.

The agency notes the law has attracted a great deal of attention after numerous reports surfaced of people being wrongly institutionalised.

Southern Metropolis Daily questions the impact of the law, saying it gives the guardian too much power. As a result, it will not protect people from being sent for treatment forcibly.

It is yet to be seen whether the law will terminate the practice of “being mentally ill-ed”, the paper says.

“Being mentally ill-ed”, a buzzword in today’s papers, is a situation where a mentally sound person is pronounced ill by others, quite often by family members over personal grudges, and forced to stay in hospital.

Global Times lists examples of people sending their healthy spouses, with whom they have disputes, for treatment against the individual’s will. The paper quotes an expert as saying that as many as 70% of inpatients were forced into treatment.

The website of China National Radio carries an article titled “Expert elaborates on how to avoid being mentally ill-ed”.

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