China passed a new mental health law on Friday that effectively prevents the illegal hospitalization of psychiatric patients, according to Reuters.
Human Rights Watch researcher Nicholas Bequelin explained that the law, while a step in the right direction, does fall short of international standards. Presently, individuals can still be involuntarily committed without a proper judicial review. However, Bequelin remarked that having the law is better than not having one at all.
“The most important thing that this law does is it will allow civil society to step in to monitor and press for improvement in the management of mental health in China, including … pushing for greater transparency and progressive curtailment of police rights,” he explained.
According to The Associated Press, the mental health law requires hospitals to provide outpatient clinics or counseling for those in need. Additionally, the law also demands that doctors receive more training. Psychiatrists who assisted in drafting the law were quite happy with the end result of all their hard work.
“The law will protect the rights of mental patients and prevent those who don’t need treatment from being forced to receive it,” explained Dr. Liu Xiehe, the man responsible for penning the first draft of the law in 1985. “Our mental health law is in line with international standards. This shows the government pays attention to the development of mental health and the protection of people’s rights in this area.”
It has been reported that the Chinese mental health system is overrun with people who do not require treatment. Many folks who found themselves under psychiatric care were placed there by angry family members of employers who were unhappy with their worker’s performance. In some cases, people were placed in hospitals by police officials interested in keeping them in silent.
According to the Xinhua state news agency, more than 16 million people in China currently suffer from some sort of mental health disorder. The new law is designed to get these folks the help they require.