UAE issues law on mental health

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The UAE Government has issued a federal law on mental health, aimed at securing the rights of patients and providing the highest standards of care.

The law applies to all matters relating to mental health, as well as psychiatric patients, mental health facilities and other institutions concerned with psychiatric care, including those based in free zones.

It also redefines mental health and psychiatric patient in accordance with the latest practices and concepts.

The new legislation prohibits the provision of mental health services without obtaining the permission of the competent authority.

It also aims to reduce the stigma linked to mental health conditions and support the social integration of patients and their families.

According to the law, a patient is entitled to receive full explanation of their rights within the mental health facility, as well as their right to submit grievances and complaints.

Furthermore, the law preserves the patient's right to retain their job without any restrictions, and protects them from any emotional, physical or sexual exploitation.

In addition, it ensures implementing age-specific health safeguards that consider a minor patient's age group and align with their best interests.

A dedicated monitoring committee will be established in each emirate with the specific purpose of safeguarding the rights of psychiatric patients, as well as a dedicated committee within each health facility to ensure the protection of patients' rights.

Penalties for violating the terms and conditions of the law include imprisonment and a fine ranging between AED 50,000 and AED 200,000.

  • The law outlines the frameworks for the mental and social care plan for patients upon their discharge from the facility; obtaining a medical insurance according to the legislation in force; facilitating access to education and recreational activities; and choosing representatives to advocate on their behalf both within and beyond the mental health care facility.
  • The law guarantees patient’s access to psychotherapy and psychiatric medications in accordance with established medical principles. Clinical observations, treatment plans, goals and risks must be explained to the patient, including benefits and side effects, timescale, and recommended intervention in case of crisis or emergency.
  • According to the new federal decree, minor psychiatric patients will benefit from special health guarantees considering their age and psychological condition. This includes the right to education; any procedure should be preceded by the preparation of a social worker or psychologist; as well as ensuring an accommodation that is separate from adults' places.
  • The monitoring committees in each emirate, will be responsible for following up on reports from mental health establishments concerning compulsory admissions of patients; supervising mental health care facilities and verifying their commitment to implement the standards and procedures mentioned in the decree; it will also review reports of the patients' rights committee of the emirate, and address complaints, grievances and objections.
  • The patients' rights committee of each emirate will be responsible for protecting the psychiatric patient's rights, receiving complaints from patients and taking all necessary measures and actions to resolve it.
  • The new law defines the types of admission to the mental healthcare facility. It establishes a number of regulations relating to voluntary admission for the purpose of treatment of substance or psychotropic substances, the obligations of the mental health facility in case of the escape of the patient or their death within the facility.
  • The legislation also defines cases of psychological restraint, isolation and transfer of the patient within and outside the country, as well as the cases in which the patient is subject to compulsory outpatient treatment.

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