Plea to hospitals on mental patients

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 29 May, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Saturday, 29 May, 2010, 12:00am

Mainland police authorities have asked all mental hospitals run by the Ministry of Public Security not to admit patients who are not suffering from mental illness unless their admission is approved by police handling their cases.

The ministry also asked all ankang (peaceful and healthy) hospitals - those run by the ministry to deal with mental patients who have committed crimes or broke regulations - to set up internal supervision systems to prevent irregularities during police investigations, the China Police Daily reported.

It said during a meeting last week in Wuhan , Hubei , looking at ways to improve management of the ankang hospital system, hospitals were asked to pay special attention to admission procedures and backgrounds of patients taken in.

Mainland media, mental health experts and lawyers focusing on the issue have criticised the rampant abuse of psychiatric hospitals by police and others in power.

Many petitioners not suffering from mental disorders have been sent to psychiatric hospitals run by local governments or the police.

Zhang Xiangning , deputy director of the ministry's prison management bureau, said there were 24 ankang hospitals with about 10,000 beds nationwide run by the central government.

Alice Wong, a Guangdong-based lawyer who specialises in mental health cases, said police were responsible for most of the petitioners sent to psychiatric hospitals, in a bid to reduce social unrest. 'That is one of key problems of the mainland mental health system,' she said.