discussion between representatives from different government departments and professionals and experts from related departments will be very important. This task is emphasized in the National Mental Health Program for 1991-95 and is expected to be completed during that period ( Shen, 1990a, 1990b).
The Law of Safeguarding the Legal Rights of the Disabled People of the People's Republic of China, after being revised eighteen times, was formally adopted by the National People's Congress in December 1990 and was finally put into effect in May 1991. It is designed to guarantee the equal rights of the disabled, including the mentally retarded and mentally handicapped ("Law for the Handicapped," 1991). The implementation of this law will accelerate the formulation of the Mental Health Act in China.
The national mental health program for 1991-95 was drafted recently. The main approach and policies stated in the program for 1985-90 were continued: a community approach for mental health service; development of mental health coordinating groups at different government levels; development of child mental health programs as well as mental health programs for the elderly, especially care and treatment for Alzheimer's disease and cerebrovascular dementia; and giving higher priority to the task of formulating the mental health law that has been worked on for the last five years and is expected to be completed within the next few years. All these policies are directed toward improvement of treatment and care for mental patients, improving their quality of life and bettering their social adjustment function so that they can return to the community and participate in the social life like other citizens without being abused or neglected, and protecting their right to get treatment, care, schooling, jobs, and other benefits.
The plan also calls for continuing the existing relationships and developing new international academic exchanges and cooperation with foreign counterpart bodies and individuals. In the last six to seven years international academic exchanges and mutual visits have significantly enhanced mental health learning. These activities stimulate and promote the development of mental health programs in China.
In addition, the plan calls for popularizing mental health knowledge through the mass media to eliminate the stigma toward psychiatric illness and to mobilize social bodies in support of mental health programs. It seems very important also to popularize mental health knowledge to the medical professionals, other than psychiatrists; community leaders; and leaders of related government departments.
Chen C. H., Zhang W. X., & Shen Y. C. ( 1986). "Data analysis of an epidemiological study on psychiatric disorders, drug and alcohol dependences, and personality disorders". Chinese Journal of Neurological Psychiatry, 19( 2), 70-72.