NAT FNC HALL
The session hall of the UAE's Federal National Council. Image Credit:

Abu Dhabi: Members of the Federal National Council passed on Tuesday a draft law which aims to regulate the relationship between psychiatric patients and the various parties dealing with them.

The law aims to provide the necessary health care for these patients, according to the best standards, protect their rights and dignity, reduce the negative effects of mental disorders in the lives of individuals, family and society, and promote the integration of the psychiatric patients in the community.

Under the law, people with mental illness are entitled to fair treatment, and they should be treated with respect and dignity, have their privacy protected, receive services appropriate for their age and culture, understand treatment options and alternatives.

People with mental disorders are also entitled to maintaining their legally established civil rights and not limiting them except for the purpose of protecting them or others from harm or by virtue of a court ruling, and not imposing restrictions on their work because of their psychological disorder or terminating their work except on the basis of a report from a medical committee and in accordance with the legislation in force in the country.

Patients also have rights to communication services unless this has a negative impact on their health condition or on others, and receive visitors or refuse to receive them according to the visitation system in the mental health facility, which can limit or prevent the visit according to the treatment requirements.

The law states psychiatric patients are also entitled to request the termination of compulsory admission, present this request to the Patients’ Rights Care Committee, and submit any complaint against any person or entity in the mental health facility without affecting the level of care provided to them, and seek the assistance of whom they deem appropriate to represent them and run their affairs inside or outside the mental health facility.

They have to be informed personally or their representatives about the nature of their admission to the mental health facility, when issuing or renewing the mandatory entry decision in a language or method they understand, and be informed in writing of all their rights, including the reason for admission and the procedures to be followed if they wishes to leave, and exit from the mental health facility after expiry of the mandatory admission period with a plan for psychosocial care.

According to the draft law, the minor psychiatric patients are surrounded by special health guarantees that take into account their age group, psychological condition and best interests, including: the right to provide education, obligating the representatives of the minor psychiatric patients to follow the treatment plan, separating them from adult places, and providing separate facilities for them.

The executive regulations of this law specify guarantees and controls for the compulsory admission of minor mental patients and all other issues related to their rights and to provide advice and guidance to their families.

Penalties

Shall be punished by imprisonment and a fine of not less than Dh50,000, but not more than Dh200,000 anyone who, in bad faith, causes a person to enter a mental health facility in violation of what is prescribed in this law and its executive regulations.

A penalty of imprisonment for up to three months and a fine of no less than Dh50,000, but not more than Dh100,000, or either of these two penalties, shall be imposed on anyone who assists a person subject to compulsory admission to a mental facility to escape.

A penalty of imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year and a fine of no less than Dh50,000, but not more than Dh100,000, shall be imposed on anyone who is entrusted with guarding, caring, nursing or treating a person suffering from a mental illness and deliberately mistreating or neglect them.

According to the draft law, if mistreatment or neglect results in a serious illness, serious injury or disability to the mental patient’s body, the penalty shall be imprisonment for a period of no less than one year and/or a fine of no less than Dh100,000, but not more than Dh200,000.