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Shanghai man uses new health law to win release from psychiatric hospital

By China Daily | China Daily | Updated: 2017-08-14 09:51

A Shanghai man has been released from a psychiatric hospital, where he had been forced to stay since 2003, after a judicial appraisal showed that he had recovered from schizophrenia.

The 51-year-old Shanghai native, surnamed Xu, said a forensic science center of the Ministry of Justice found in July that he has full capacity for civil conduct, and the Shanghai Youth Psychiatric Rehabilitation Hospital has agreed to let him leave.

Xu had taken the hospital and his eldest brother Xu Canxing - who was acting as his guardian - to court several times for "infringing upon his right to personal liberty". It was seen as the first case involving a mental health law that required the patient's voluntary consent for hospitalization.

The law, which took effect on May 1, 2013, is viewed as a substantive step forward in protecting the rights and interests of people with mental health problems in China, where official figures showed there were 5.4 million people with serious mental problems registered at different health departments at the end of 2016.

In the past, the lack of due process in the application of forced hospitalization resulted in perfectly healthy people being sent to hospital by family members who find them disobedient or covet their property.

"After leaving the hospital, I will rent an apartment and lead a normal life with my girlfriend," said Xu, who was still living in the hospital so he could take care of his girlfriend, who is also staying at the institute and has applied to be discharged.

His guardian, Canxing, who Xu has accused of forcing him to be hospitalized to seize his legitimate share of an apartment inherited from their parents, said on Thursday that he will respect the forensic results.

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