The government is to establish a national mental healthcare command center to improve coordination with local agencies in managing social safety risks, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) said yesterday.
Executive Yuan spokesman Lo Ping-cheng (羅秉成) said that Su made the announcement at a weekly Cabinet meeting, during which it approved draft amendments to the Mental Health Act (精神衛生法) proposed by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.
The amendments would be sent to the Legislative Yuan for review.
Photo: Lee Hsin-fang, Taipei Times
Lo quoted Su as saying that the drafts echo the principles of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child, while answering public calls to improve the social safety net.
The drafts put more emphasis on interagency coordination for promoting mental healthcare, such as improving services for patients as well as social support systems, Su said.
The amendments aim to ensure that no one would be missed in the social safety net that involves local institutions, health agencies and other government bodies, he said.
One proposal would establish a national mental healthcare command center along with a platform for identifiying risks, which would be linked to local governments’ emergency response platforms, Su said.
Department of Mental and Oral Health Director-General Chen Li-chung (諶立中) said that the amendments’ would primarily focus on five aspects: promoting mental healthcare, creating more community-focused mental healthcare centers, improving the reporting mechanism for people with mental health issues and early risk control, requiring court approval for mandatory hospitalization, and improving the protection of patients’ rights.
The community-based centers would be established based on population size to ensure that people receive proper care in their neighborhoods, he said.
Under the changes, a hospital would have to obtain court approval before hospitalizing someone for mental health reasons without their consent, rather than just the approval of a committee convened by the health ministry, he said.
The court would engage judges, psychiatrists and patients’ rights advocates when reviewing a hospital’s application, while a mandatory hospitalization would be limited to one time for no more than 60 days, Chen said.
Institutions that have no license to provide mental healthcare would be banned from accommodating or treating mental health patients, to prevent agencies or groups from arbitrarily treating patients, he said.
The act would cover all residents in Taiwan, not just Republic of China citizens, he added.
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