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Law may shield rights of mentally ill

By Zhou Sitian (Global Times)

14:29, October 31, 2012

Illustration: Liu Rui

A mental health law was approved Friday by the Standing Committee of the 11th National People's Congress. This long-awaited law, which was first proposed 27 years ago, was finally passed. It will take effect after May 1, 2013.

China has over 100 million mentally ill people, among which 16 million suffer from severe mental disorders. Due to a lack of funds, about 70 percent of mentally ill people cannot receive effective treatment.

As a result, incidents where mentally ill people hurt others or themselves are common. In June 2011, a young mother in Guangzhou, surnamed Zhang and with a history of intermittent psychosis, suddenly lost control, and stabbed her two-year-old daughter to death in the toilet.

Meanwhile, there are cases of normal people being sent to asylums under false pretences.

In a widely reported case in Wuhan, Hubei Province, a local worker Xu Wu, who had clashed with his employer, a State-owned steelmaking factory, was delivered to a mental institution and kept there for four years.

Xu escaped in April 2011 and accepted media interviews, which attracted nationwide attention and stirred up huge controversy.

The above cases reflect the two most tricky problems in the field of mental health, providing effective treatment to mentally ill people and ending the false diagnoses and forced imprisonment of those without mental illnesses.

It is under these circumstances that the new law was unveiled. In respect of its overall principles and specific regulations, the new law is a comprehensive regulation of mental health issues, which are growing increasingly prominent in China.

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