Proposed law protects mental illness patients

By Wang Qingyun (
Updated: 2011-06-10 20:22
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The Legislative Affairs Office of the State Council issued an announcement on Friday, asking for public feedback on a proposed mental health law.

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The draft legislation sets rules on the diagnosis of mental illness and mandatory treatment of mental health patients, stipulating that except in legal circumstances, hospitals are prohibited from diagnosing anyone with mental illness against their will, or putting sane people away, at the risk of a criminal penalty.

The draft also prescribes that a patient or their guardians have the right to a second qualified opinion after being diagnosed as in need of mandatory treatment. If the patient or their guardians still have doubts about the outcome, they can apply for an evaluation carried out by a forensic department qualified in identifying mental illness.

According to the draft, if a patient is diagnosed with no mental illness by this department, any organization or individual cannot refuse to release them. In addition, if the hospital finds that the patient's condition improves enough to cease mandatory treatment, it must immediately inform the patient and their guardians.

The draft came about after Xu Wu, a man from Wuhan, capital of Hubei province, escaped a treatment institution twice in the past five years, making it to Guangzhou on April 19 before he was dragged back to Wuhan by unidentified people on April 27.

Xu was diagnosed three times with mental illness. Xu's parents said they were forced to sign the agreement to send their son to mandatory treatment, and entrusted lawyers and psychiatrists to evaluate Xu's condition in 2009, but were refused access to their son during this time.

On May 12, Xu was re-diagnosed by experts who said although he suffered from paranoia that required treatment, he did not need involuntary hospitalization.