Revision underway in law for the mentally ill 

June 30, 2019

TEHRAN- There are many gaps in law about dealing with people who suffer from mental disorders, but changes are underway, said Deputy Health Minister Iraj Harirchi.


According to Harirchi, the government will soon put forward a new bill for supporting people with psychological disorders. 
He made the remarks over the first national congress on “legal challenges in treating people with mental disorders”, Fars news agency reported. 
The congress ran from Wednesday to Friday. 
“Despite the new developments in treating mental health problems and the usage of new methods, there aren’t enough laws for helping these patients restart a normal life,” said Harirchi. 
“For starters, there isn’t a common language for the experts in law and in psychology to discuss specialized issues, in fact there is actually no communication between the experts of these two fields,” he said. 
“An example is the law of “involuntary hospitalization” of the mentally ill. This law is not practical; 90% of the mentally ill are involuntary hospitalized without any juridical orders. Only 10% are hospitalized based on a legal verdict and no forensic psychologist is assigned to oversee this 10% anyway,” he added. 
“Many words that are used in legal context has no scientific grounds. For example the word “jonun” (literally means insanity) is used in many legal texts while this is a very broad term; how can we know the exact clinical problem of a patients with using such a word, and how can we apply proper rules and regulations to them?”
“Another problem is the law about assigning a guardian to people with mental disorders. Currently, appointment of a guardian to a patient is completely based on the judge’s opinion. The verdict will appoint a permanent guardian for a mentally ill person without any time limit; however, the patients’ mental situation may change over time, especially with the new developments in psychology.”

What revisions the new bill suggest?
According to Harirchi, the Health Ministry has put a lot of work into drafting a new bill that would resolve the existing issues. First of all, a standard definition is assigned to every mental health problem. 
The new bill also includes the exact terms and condition of involuntary hospitalization, the duties of the medical teams in regard to patients with mental disorders and the legal consequences of insulting such patients. 
Moreover, some new plans are proposed to teach people about how to treat the mentally ills. 
Opening forensic-psychological hospitals is another proposal made in this bill. 
According to World Health Organization, there are many different mental disorders, with different presentations. They are generally characterized by a combination of abnormal thoughts, perceptions, emotions, behavior and relationships with others.
Mental disorders include: depression, bipolar affective disorder, schizophrenia and other psychoses, dementia, intellectual disabilities and developmental disorders including autism.
There are effective strategies for preventing mental disorders such as depression.
Health systems have not yet adequately responded to the burden of mental disorders. As a consequence, the gap between the need for treatment and its provision is wide all over the world. In low- and middle-income countries, between 76% and 85% of people with mental disorders receive no treatment for their disorder. In high-income countries, between 35% and 50% of people with mental disorders are in the same situation.
SJ/MG

 

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