The Hot Zone
China's newly announced air defense identification zone over the East China Sea aims to shore up national security
Current Issue
· Table of Contents
· Editor's Desk
· Previous Issues
· Subscribe to Mag
Subscribe Now >>
Weekly Watch
Expert's View
Market Watch
North American Report
Government Documents
Expat's Eye
Photo Gallery
Reader's Service
Learning with
'Beijing Review'
E-mail us
RSS Feeds
PDF Edition
Reader's Letters
Make Beijing Review your homepage
Hot Links

cheap eyeglasses
Market Avenue

Promoting Mental Health
Cover Stories Series 2011> Promoting Mental Health
UPDATED: September 30, 2011 NO. 40 OCTOBER 6, 2011
Good News for the Mentally Ill

An Executive Meeting of the State Council, China's cabinet, discussed and approved in principle the draft Mental Health Law on September 19, which was open for public feedback in June. But the lawmaking process that started in 1985 remains unfinished, as the law still needs to be reviewed and voted on by the top legislature.

Coming at a time when China's health system is dealing with growing numbers of mental patients, the law will undoubtedly play a positive role in promoting mental health care in the country.

According to the World Health Organization, mental illness is among the most widespread and serious threats to human health in the 21st century.

China is experiencing a period of rapid economic growth and social change, and its citizens now face a great deal of social pressure. This has led to mental illness becoming more prevalent.

Data from the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention show more than 100 million Chinese are suffering from mental illness, of whom more than 16 million, or one in 13, are seriously ill.

Mental illness causes one fifth of China's total medical expenses, more than cardio-cerebral vascular diseases, respiratory diseases or cancer. This share is expected to rise to one fourth by 2010.

Despite the high prevalence of mental disorders, China's system for the treatment of mental illness remains weak. Well-equipped mental institutions and professional medical staff are in short supply. Currently, China has only 19,000 certified psychiatrists. At the grassroots level, only a small percentage of mentally ill people have been identified and treated. Low public awareness and insufficient government investment have made it difficult to diagnose and treat mental disorders.

Not only does China lack an adequate institutional base to deal with the mentally ill, the country's laws and legal system lack provisions to protect the legitimate rights and interests of people with mental disorders. Only four provinces and municipalities directly under the Central Government have mental health regulations.

As a result of these shortcomings, many mentally ill people have never received any treatment, and some have caused injury to themselves and others.

The draft Mental Health Law has spelled out standards for the prevention, diagnosis and institutional treatment of mental disorders. It focuses on protecting the legitimate rights, interests and dignity of mentally ill people, and ensures they will receive timely psychiatric therapy.

It also includes provisions that govern the management of seriously ill mental patients. Strict legal punishments have been specified for those who intentionally send normal individuals to mental institutions, and those mental institutions that diagnose patients as mentally ill without proper mental health assessment.

Top Story
-Protecting Ocean Rights
-Partners in Defense
-Fighting HIV+'s Stigma
-HIV: Privacy VS. Protection
-Setting the Tone
Most Popular
About BEIJINGREVIEW | About beijingreview.com | Rss Feeds | Contact us | Advertising | Subscribe & Service | Make Beijing Review your homepage
Copyright Beijing Review All right reserved