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Helping the mentally ill

China Daily | Updated: 2013-09-04 07:31

Setting up a national reporting and registration system for people with serious mental health problems is a positive step toward a more effective treatment management system and will help reduce the potential threat to other people posed by those with violent tendencies.

According to a notice issued by the National Health and Family Planning Commission on Monday, the details of patients with schizophrenia, schizoaffective disorder, delusional disorder, bipolar disorder, as well as mental health problems caused by epilepsy and disability will be recorded in a national database to facilitate better medical treatment.

Hospitals will need to record the patient in the national system, or submit a written report to a county-level mental illness prevention and treatment agency, within 10 days of the patient being discharged from hospital. And the county-level agency should inform the medical institution nearest the patient's home, so that doctors can arrange regular visits to guide treatment and rehabilitation.

The establishment of a national reporting, registration, treatment and rehabilitation system for patients with mental health problems is long overdue, as there have been repeated cases nationwide of people with mental illnesses making unprovoked attacks on members of the public.

In the most recent incident on Monday, a 40-year-old man rushed out of a restaurant in Shenzhen, Guangdong province, brandishing a knife and attacked people in the street. His rampage left three people dead and five others injured. Police said the man was being treated for mental health problems and had escaped his father's care. Police also said another man, from Shandong province, who stabbed two people to death outside a Beijing shopping mall in mid July, including a woman from the United States, was confirmed to have mental health problems.

The establishment of an inclusive reporting and registration system is the first step toward an effective custodial and treatment management system for people with serious mental health problems. But to facilitate completing this ambitious but challenging task, the government needs to provide the necessary financial input to significantly expand the number of mental health professionals and fund the construction of medical facilities.

(China Daily 09/04/2013 page8)

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