New Mental Health Law in the UAE: A Comprehensive Overview | Awatif Mohammad Shoqi Advocates & Legal Consultancy

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Introduction

The UAE has recently taken a groundbreaking step in mental health care with the implementation of Federal Law No. 10/2023 on Mental Health. The Mental Health Law prioritizes the rights of individuals struggling with mental health conditions and establishes a structured framework for their assessment, treatment, and care.

Overview and Key Definitions

The introduction of the new Mental Health Law in the UAE marks a significant turning point, emphasizing a commitment to prioritize the rights and well-being of individuals facing mental health conditions.

Article 1 of the law defines key terms, including Mental Health as a state of psychological and social stability enabling individuals to pursue their goals and handle life’s challenges. Mental Disorder is described as a condition affecting various mental abilities, leading to reduced social, employment, or educational functions, or causing psychological distress.

Additionally, the term Psychopath refers to an individual diagnosed with a Mental Disorder, relating to internationally recognized psychiatric classifications.

Objectives of the Mental Health Law

Article 2 of the new Mental Health Law outlines objectives, including organizing interactions between Psychopaths and the public, ensuring high-quality medical care, safeguarding the rights and dignity of individuals with mental disorders, reducing the harmful impact of mental health issues on individuals and society, and encouraging the participation of individuals with mental health conditions in the community.

Licensing, Registration, and Committee Responsibilities:

Article 4 of the new Mental Health Law, grants authorization for licensing mental health services, ensuring adherence to specified standards. Furthermore, it establishes a registry for individuals with mental health conditions, defining the required data and the duration for which such records must be maintained under the law.

Article 6 introduces the Control and Follow-up Committee in each Emirate, clearly outlining their formation and procedural guidelines. This committee holds the responsibility of supervising compulsory admissions, approving treatments, ensuring compliance, addressing complaints, and making decisions on grievances.

Additionally, Article 8 emphasizes the need for prompt decision-making by the Committee and grants authority to the director of the Mental Health Facility to take action if the Committee’s decision is delayed.

Patients’ Rights

Articles 9 to 11 of the new Mental Health Law outline the fundamental rights of psychopaths, emphasizing the need for a comprehensive explanation of their rights during admission, a favourable environment, protection of civil rights, and privacy. These articles also highlight rights related to mental health care, including the right to psychiatric treatment, informed consent, and active involvement in the therapeutic plan.

The law guarantees rights for minor psychopaths, considering their age and psychological condition. Furthermore, Articles 12 to 15 introduce the Patients’ Rights Committee, tasked with ensuring adherence to psychopaths’ rights, handling complaints, and addressing grievances.

Admission to Mental Health Facility

Chapter 3 of the Mental Health Law outlines the various types of admission to Mental Health Facilities. Article 16 specifies admission for assessment, voluntary or compulsory treatment, and urgent treatment, with compulsory admission to private facilities requiring approval from the competent court or Public Prosecution.

Article 17 focuses on voluntary admission, permitting the psychopath to leave upon request. The detailed compulsory admission for assessment is initiated by the Public Prosecution or court. The following articles explain the procedures, duration, and reporting requirements for compulsory admission for assessment and treatment.

Articles 29 and 30 cover temporary leave and transfer, while Articles 33 to 38 address emergency admissions, custody, and the involvement of police or rescue teams. Additionally, Article 39 emphasizes the right to assessment and treatment for individuals with restricted freedom due to imprisonment, detention, or remand.

Compulsory Admission and Treatment

Chapter 4 introduces the regulations for Compulsory Outpatient Therapeutic Care. Article 40 specifies that a psychiatrist may prescribe such care based on medical advice or the Psychopath’s representative’s request, promising to follow the treatment plan. The decision considers the Psychopath’s mental disorder, the necessity for continued treatment without Mental Health Facility admission, the absence of danger, and potential weakness without treatment.

The Mental Health Facility may report the patient’s condition to the Control and Follow-up Committee within 14 days, with judicial approval, Compulsory Outpatient Therapeutic Care, which stops when its goal is met or is no longer necessary.

Article 41 outlines when a Psychopath may be readmitted to the Mental Health Facility for treatment if Compulsory Outpatient Therapeutic Care is impossible or if the Psychopath fails to comply with the prescribed treatment program. Additionally, Article 42 allows a Psychopath undergoing outpatient treatment to request a transfer to another clinic, subject to Ministerial decisions and coordination with the Health Entity.

Psychopath Treatment Controls

Chapter 5 outlines controls for Psychopath treatment. Article 43 grants the Psychiatrist the authority to control necessary treatment for a compulsorily admitted Psychopath, with or without consent, for a renewable period of up to 45 days, except in specific cases requiring consent. The process emphasizes obtaining consent for voluntary admission treatment, allowing emergency treatment without consent in life-threatening situations.

The Psychopath has the right to withdraw consent, and restraining or isolation requires the Psychiatrist’s permission. Specific cases for Psychopath restraining and isolation are outlined, along with controls for the safe transportation of Psychopaths.

Lastly, Article 50 highlights the confidentiality of addiction treatment information, allowing voluntary application without Public Prosecution approval, and protecting against criminal lawsuits in certain scenarios.

Penalties

Chapter 6 outlines penalties in mental health law. Article 52 specifies consequences, involving imprisonment and fines of AED 50,000 to not exceeding AED 200,000, for intentionally fabricating medical reports or causing improper admission to a Mental Health Facility.

Article 53 outlines the punishment for assisting the escape of a person undergoing Compulsory Admission procedures. Article 54 outlines penalties for the intentional mistreatment or neglect of mentally ill individuals, with imprisonment for a period not exceeding one year and fines ranging from not less than AED 50,000 to not exceeding AED 100,000.

In cases where mistreatment leads to severe illness, serious injury, or disability, the penalties increase to imprisonment for a minimum of one year and fines from not less than AED 100,000 to not exceeding 200,000. Article 55 escalates penalties for repetition, and disciplinary penalties may be imposed.

The final provisions in Chapter 7 include granting law enforcement capacity to designated individuals and allowing various entities to establish care homes for Psychopaths whose mental condition doesn’t necessitate staying at a Mental Health Facility but lacks family care.

Conclusion

The new Mental Health Law in the UAE signifies a progressive step in mental health care, prioritizing individual rights, dignity, and well-being. The law emphasizes the commitment and encouragement of a supportive environment that promotes mental health awareness and accessibility to care for all.

 

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