Woman held as mentally ill at parents' whim sues

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Shanghai Daily, November 22, 2012
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A woman is suing a mental health hospital in Beijing for keeping her in involuntary custody and treatment for three days in June at request of her parents, Legal Daily reported yesterday.

The plaintiff, Chen Dan, is demanding 200,000 yuan (US$32,090) in compensation. She said her angry parents showed up in Beijing in June to force her to break up with her boyfriend. Chen was taken to Beijing Huilongguan Hospital on June 5 by four people hired by her parents after she refused. The case is the first of its kind brought after adoption of China's new Mental Health Law on October 26, which does not allow mental health facilities to keep patients against their will unless proven dangerous.

Chen said she was forced to remain because her parents told the doctors she was mentally ill, the court heard.

The next day, a doctor asked Chen about her childhood and how she came to the hospital. Chen said she answered calmly and rationally. On June 8, the doctor's diagnosis said Chen was depressed but it was "unnecessary that she stay in the hospital."

Chen posted her experience on the Internet and sued.

In a hearing, Chen's lawyer said the hospital had no right to keep Chen for three days. The hospital argued it obeyed regulations at the time, saying Chen was in an "extremely excited" state in the hospital.

"We decided to keep her because her parents told us she had tried to commit suicide and had depression since 2009. We made the diagnosis within 72 hours and freed her immediately, which fits within the rules," the hospital said.

Huang Xuetao, a lawyer specializing in mental health cases, said the new law might not help Chen since it will not take effect until May 1.

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