Home Life Style Breaking the new mental health law in the UAE could result in a penalty of up to Dh200,000 and imprisonment.

Breaking the new mental health law in the UAE could result in a penalty of up to Dh200,000 and imprisonment.

In every emirate, a specialized monitoring committee will be instituted with the explicit objective of ensuring the protection of patients' rights.

by Soofiya

On Wednesday, the UAE Government introduced a Federal Law addressing mental health, encompassing a range of penalties for violators, including imprisonment and fines ranging from Dh50,000 to Dh200,000.

This new legislation aligns with contemporary practices in mental healthcare, safeguarding the rights of psychiatric patients and ensuring the delivery of optimal physical and mental care. Its objective is to regulate interactions involving psychiatric patients, provide healthcare in line with the highest standards, preserve patient rights and dignity, and mitigate the negative impacts of mental conditions on individuals, families, and society while promoting social integration.

Applicable to all aspects of mental health, including patients, mental health facilities, and related institutions within the country, the law defines mental health and psychiatric patients according to the latest practices. Importantly, it prohibits the provision of mental health services without proper authorization from the competent authority.

The legislation outlines fundamental patient rights, including receiving comprehensive explanations of their rights within mental health facilities, the right to submit grievances, and the receipt of necessary care and treatments in environments that respect civil rights. Patient job retention without restrictions, protection from exploitation, confidentiality of information, and safeguarding personal belongings are also explicitly guaranteed.

Furthermore, the law establishes frameworks for mental and social care plans upon patients’ discharge, encourages access to education and recreational activities, and allows the appointment of advocates both within and outside mental health facilities. Patients have guaranteed access to psychotherapy and psychiatric medications in line with established medical principles, with comprehensive explanations of treatment plans, goals, risks, and crisis interventions.

Specific protections are outlined for minor psychiatric patients, considering their age and psychological condition. These include age-specific health safeguards, education rights, the involvement of social workers or psychologists in procedures, and separate accommodations from adults.

To enforce these provisions, the law establishes monitoring committees in each emirate, tasked with safeguarding psychiatric patients’ rights, supervising mental health facilities, and addressing reports and complaints. Additionally, patients’ rights committees in each emirate will handle complaints, ensuring the protection of psychiatric patients’ rights.

The legislation defines various types of admission to mental healthcare facilities, covering voluntary admission for substance or psychotropic substance treatment, obligations in case of patient escape or death within the facility, psychological restraint, isolation, and patient transfers within and outside the country. It also addresses cases requiring compulsory outpatient treatment.

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