News : Article

​Amend legislation for patients in mental health facilities

Graphic: Close up shot of spokes on a wheelchair

The Commission wants to minimse the risk of human rights violations from the use of isolation and constraint measures in mental health facilities.

The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRCK) has recommended that the Minister of Health and Welfare amend legislation related to isolation and constraint measures in mental health facilities in order to minimise the risk of human rights violations of patients in those facilities.

Article 46 of the Mental Health Act prescribes when and how to use isolation and constraint measures on patients in mental health facilities. Their application is based on the Guideline on Isolation and Constrain, prepared by the Ministry of Health and Welfare.

In 2015, the NHRCK conducted a survey with 500 patients and 200 medical personnel in 22 national, public and private mental health institutions regarding the use of isolation and constraint measures.

The survey showed that isolation and constraint measures – which have to be carried out to minimum extent and only when there is no alternative – were used excessively and without restriction.

The NHRCK concluded that the application of isolation and constraint measures, which restrict the freedom of movement of patients, must to be prescribed under legislation, rather than through guidance.

Further, in order to minimise the risk of human rights violations, procedures for and documentation of such measures must be regulated in detail.

The Commission also found that 80 percent of medical staff were using chemical constraint measures and that information regarding the drugs were not provided to patients.

Providing patients with insufficient information could infringe upon their right to self-determination regarding treatment and lead to unwanted side effects from the drugs.

The Commission has recommended that a study be conducted on measures to reduce the use of isolation and constraint measures, in line with article 14 of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (persons with disabilities should not be deprived of their liberty), to which Korea is a party.

Date: 7 November 2016

Source: National Human Rights Commission of Korea


Image credits

  1. Close up shot of spokes on a wheelchair - Johnny Silvercloud, Flickr; http://bit.ly/2feSvB0