Shang­hai man uses new health law to win re­lease from psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - CHINA - By CHINA DAILY

A Shang­hai man has been re­leased from a psy­chi­atric hos­pi­tal, where he had been forced to stay since 2003, af­ter a ju­di­cial ap­praisal showed that he had re­cov­ered from schizophre­nia.

The 51-year-old Shang­hai na­tive, sur­named Xu, said a foren­sic science cen­ter of the Min­istry of Jus­tice found in July that he has full ca­pac­ity for civil con­duct, and the Shang­hai Youth Psy­chi­atric Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Hos­pi­tal has agreed to let him leave.

Xu had taken the hos­pi­tal and his el­dest brother Xu Canx­ing — who was act­ing as his guardian — to court sev­eral times for “in­fring­ing upon his right to per­sonal lib­erty”. It was seen as the first case in­volv­ing a men­tal health law that re­quired the pa­tient’s vol­un­tary con­sent for hos­pi­tal­iza­tion.

The law, which took ef­fect on May 1, 2013, is viewed as a sub­stan­tive step for­ward in pro­tect­ing the rights and in­ter­ests of peo­ple with men­tal health prob­lems in China, where of­fi­cial fig­ures showed there were 5.4 mil­lion peo­ple with se­ri­ous men­tal prob­lems reg­is­tered at dif­fer­ent health de­part­ments at the end of 2016.

In the past, the lack of due process in the ap­pli­ca­tion of forced hos­pi­tal­iza­tion re­sulted in per­fectly healthy peo­ple be­ing sent to hos­pi­tal by fam­ily mem­bers who find them dis­obe­di­ent or covet their prop­erty.

“Af­ter leav­ing the hos­pi­tal, I will rent an apart­ment and lead a nor­mal life with my girl­friend,” said Xu, who was still liv­ing in the hos­pi­tal so he could take care of his girl­friend, who is also stay­ing at the in­sti­tute and has ap­plied to be dis­charged.

His guardian, Canx­ing, who Xu has ac­cused of forc­ing him to be hos­pi­tal­ized to seize his le­git­i­mate share of an apart­ment in­her­ited from their par­ents, said on Thurs­day that he will re­spect the foren­sic re­sults.

“I never pre­vented him from leav­ing,” the brother said. “I have a job and I don’t have time to take care of him. Whether he can leave the hos­pi­tal or not needs to be de­ter­mined by the foren­sic author­i­ties, not me.”

Xu’s lawyer, Yang Weihua, told China Daily that many peo­ple like Xu were fil­ing law­suits with men­tal health hos­pi­tals and their guardians, and they needed help.

In Xu’s case, he was first sent to a re­gional hos­pi­tal by his fa­ther and el­dest brother for men­tal prob­lems in 2001, when he per­sisted in ap­peal­ing against the Aus­tralian im­mi­gra­tion au­thor­ity af­ter he was repa­tri­ated to China for gam­bling and other mis­con­duct.

In 2003, af­ter a phys­i­cal con­flict with his fa­ther, Xu was sent to the pri­vately-run Youth Psy­chi­atric Re­ha­bil­i­ta­tion Hos­pi­tal and was di­ag­nosed with schizophre­nia.

In 2008, Xu’s fa­ther died and his el­dest brother was ap­pointed his le­gal guardian. But Xu claimed his brother, un­will­ing to have Xu stay at the house left by their fa­ther, re­jected his plea to leave the hos­pi­tal, though he had ob­vi­ously re­cov­ered.

The hos­pi­tal also de­clined to dis­charge him with­out the con­sent of his brother.

Start­ing in 2012, Xu con­tacted lawyers and re­sorted to courts for help. He saw some hope af­ter the men­tal health law was im­ple­mented.

How­ever, he still lost two law­suits against the hos­pi­tal and his brother. Two pre­vi­ous foren­sic ap­praisals showed that he still had resid­ual symp­toms of schizophre­nia, but it was not cat­e­go­rized as a “se­ri­ous men­tal health prob­lem”.

The lat­est law­suit, with the help of his lawyer, was launched in June. Yang said the court will an­nounce its de­ci­sion later this month.

Whether he can leave the hos­pi­tal or not needs to be de­ter­mined by the foren­sic author­i­ties, not me.”

Xu Canx­ing, el­dest brother and guardian of a 51-year-old man

He Qi in Shang­hai con­trib­uted to this story.

GE YINIAN / FOR CHINA DAILY

Chil­dren pick up ping-pong balls us­ing chop­sticks in their left hands dur­ing a com­pe­ti­tion in He­fei, An­hui province, on Fri­day. A lo­cal com­mu­nity cen­ter or­ga­nized a range of left-handed com­pe­ti­tions for chil­dren to mark In­ter­na­tional Left-Han­ders Day, which falls on Sun­day. A to­tal of 32 chil­dren par­tic­i­pated in the events.

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