A charity has warned that China's mental health system is in disarray, putting healthy individuals at risk of being forced into psychiatric hospitals and ignoring those who need treatment.
"The current situation for mental health treatment in China is in deep chaos," the Equity and Justice Initiative, based in the southern city of Shenzhen, said in a report emailed to AFP.
Advertisement"On the one hand, patients who should be treated cannot get treatment because they cannot pay medical expenses," said the charity, which focuses on public health issues.
"On the other hand, many healthy individuals... are taken to psychiatric hospitals by people with whom they have conflicts of interest, losing their personal freedom and being forced to have treatment they should not be given."
The report comes amid an increasing focus on mental health in China, following a spate of school killings by unstable individuals and several suicides at a factory owned by Taiwanese high-tech giant Foxconn.
Official figures released in 2009 showed that China had more than 100 million mental health patients, including over 16 million people in serious condition.
The charity's report, which examined more than 100 real-life cases, 30 laws and 300 news reports, highlighted a number of recent incidents.
In the southern province of Hainan, one man who killed and dismembered an eight-year-old girl in 2009 was found to have already been diagnosed as a schizophrenic having previously murdered two elderly people.
Instead of being assigned to a psychiatric care facility, he was placed under the care of his family, who were unable to control him, the report said.
In another example, a farmer called Sun Fawu from the eastern province of Shandong was repeatedly forced into a mental institution by the local government to prevent him petitioning authorities in Beijing.
The head of the mental health institution admitted that the hospital was full of petitioners with no psychiatric problems, but they had no say in the matter as local authorities had brought them there, the report said.
According to state media, under the current system people can be sent to asylums against their will by relatives who just need to claim they are suffering from serious mental health problems.
They can then only be discharged by those who had them committed in the first place.