China Adopts Mental Health Rights Law


New law emphasizes privacy and bans involuntary mental health examinations and inpatient treatment except in cases in which patients express an intent to harm themselves or others, and require that patients be given the right to an independent review. However, China’s Ministry of Public Security will maintain its own psychiatric institutions, which “will do little to change the problem” of the government’s silencing of dissidents by deeming them mentally ill, says a researcher at Human Rights Watch.

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Kermit Cole
Kermit Cole, MFT, founding editor of Mad in America, works in Santa Fe, New Mexico as a couples and family therapist. Inspired by Open Dialogue, he works as part of a team and consults with couples and families that have members identified as patients. His work in residential treatment — largely with severely traumatized and/or "psychotic" clients — led to an appreciation of the power and beauty of systemic philosophy and practice, as the alternative to the prevailing focus on individual pathology. A former film-maker, he has undergraduate and master's degrees in psychology from Harvard University, as well as an MFT degree from the Council for Relationships in Philadelphia. He is a doctoral candidate with the Taos Institute and the Free University of Brussels. You can reach him at [email protected].


  1. This sure gives me pause. Mental illness is such a social construct that is used to subjugate undesirable ideas as well as undesirable behaviors.

    I doubt they can afford to drug Chinese dissidents with heavy tranquilizers (aka antipsychotics). A schizophrenic-labeled individual in China will still live a longer life and a life with clearer thoughts over there.

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  2. A risk to themselves and others, and how on earth do they determine that. A person holding a gun is deemed OK by the police as they did not shoot you, but the psychiatrist can say anything about a person without any evidence at all and they are suddenly a danger to themselves and others. And of course a danger to oneself is refusing to take medication, so it defeats the whole purpose of the laws.

    Chinese dissidents are drugged with heavy tranquilizers, which is why they have no money for anything else. They spend too much on conrolling everyone and giving them brain altering treatments!!!

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    • Having said that there lives are longer and better, as families cannot afford the medications, and they do not have forced community treatment. Hence once out they are not medicated. The sense of community they have and not the individulistic nature of the american society, also gives them a community in which they are supported for who they are, and which helps enormously in them recovering.

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  3. This is all surreal!


    A nation with one of the worst himan rights records in the world now has a law to protect pricacy and provide counseling for the “mentally ill”?

    The United States?

    With a *legitimate* Constitution continues to violate civil rights on a daily basis for those with psychiatric labels?


    Beam me up!


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