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Subsidy promotes care of mentally ill

Updated: 2016-03-15 07:51
By Wang Xiaodong (China Daily)

Guardians of people suffering serious mental disorders in Beijing may be eligible for a 2,400 yuan ($370) annual subsidy from the municipal government if they have delivered proper care, the city's Commission of Health and Family Planning said on Monday.

The subsidy is expected to encourage good care of the estimated 58,000 people with serious mental disorders in Beijing and reduce accidents, said Gao Xiaojun, the commission's spokesman.

The measure, which was introduced at the end of last year, has been carried out in some areas of Beijing since February and will eventually go citywide, according to the commission.

Beijing is the first provincial-level area in China to adopt such a subsidy in its entirety, the commission said.

Gao said guardians must apply for the subsidies with the local subdistrict offices or the township government where they are living, and can get the money after inspection and approval procedures certifying conditions have been met. These include ensuring mentally ill people are properly taken care of and have not inflicted harm to others over a one-year period.

A major reason for accidents involving people with serious mental disorders in Beijing in the past several years has been a lack of oversight by guardians, said Li Zhibo, an official with Beijing's General Social Security Management Office.

"We hope such accidents can be reduced with the implementation of the policy," he said.

Wang Xuezhi, a 53-year-old man, was sentenced to life in prison by a Beijing court last year for stabbing four people with a knife at a supermarket in 2013. One person reportedly died.

The court gave Wang a light sentence in light of his mental illness, saying he was suffering delusions when he committed the crime, according to a report in Beijing Evening News.

Zhang Shouzi, a psychiatrist at Beijing Geriatric Hospital, said those suffering serious mental disorders, such as schizophrenia, cannot control their behavior and can do physical harm to themselves or others.

"Many accidents could have been avoided if such individuals had been properly taken care of," he said. "The issue deserves attention from the whole society."

It is not feasible to rely solely on individual families to take care of people with serious mental illnesses, he said.

"The whole society, including the government, are more powerful and should join together to cope with the mentally disordered."

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