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New law to aid mental disorder patients

(Shanghai Daily)

08:44, April 25, 2013

A new law that comes into effect on May 1 will insist on hospitalization of patients with serious mental illness only, or those deemed a threat to the society.

About 80 percent of patients who are hospitalized now with mental health issues in Shanghai are admitted involuntarily. In all, 70 percent of them are sent by their family members and 30 percent by police. But all that will change next month.

An agreement with a patient is mandatory for receiving treatment in hospital under the new law and involuntary institutionalization will be discouraged.

Those who don't injure themselves or others and are not a risk to anyone can decide by themselves if they want to be hospitalized.

In extreme cases that require involuntary hospitalization, an assessment will be made and the whole procedure will be strictly regulated.

Patients who meet the standards for clinical recovery will not have to wait for approval for family members and can leave the hospital on their own will.

Family members cannot refuse to take care of them.

"The law recognizes the patient's right for refusing treatment if they don't hurt themselves or others," said Xu Yifeng, director of Shanghai Mental Health Center.

Families can approach hospitals if they fear about the personal wellbeing of the patients. But a consent from the patient is required before they are admitted.

"The new law will definitely have an impact on the current medical behavior, patient's family and social management," said Dr Xie Bin, vice director of Shanghai Mental Health Center who participated in the drafting of the law.

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