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Kuwait’s First Mental Health Law: A Step Forward

Kuwait’s First Mental Health Law: A Step Forward

Kuwait enacted the first mental health law of the country prior to which there was no mental health law in the country. The Kuwaiti Law No. 14 of 2019 is the legislated concerning mental health and defines mental health as “state of well-being of individual and realization of his potential to cope with routine stresses of life, work productively and contribute towards the community.” Moreover, the law also defines the term mental illness as “psychological or mental disorder due to impairing of mental function limiting individual’s adaptation to their social environment but without use of alcohol or any psychotropic drugs or medications.”

The salient provisions of the mental health law of Kuwait are as follows:

  • establish Mental Health Coordinating Council (MHCC) with 11 members empowered to develop policies for rights of mental health patients.
  • Article 11 of the Mental Health Law empowers the physician to prevent a patient from leaving while undergoing evaluation known as Assessment Period if physician believes that patient pose threat to his own life or anyone else.
  • The compulsory referring of a person to mental health treatment can be done on judicial order
  • A patient may be transferred from one mental health centre to other if requested by
  • relative
  • mental health therapist
  • mental illness is threat to safety of patient and others
  • The law explains severe mental illness with symptoms
  • deterioration of mental/health condition
  • pose threat to the safety or life of the patient.
  • The law mentions lays down stringent punishment for the violation or contravention of the law:.
  • intentional admission of a person without any medical condition: imprisonment between 1 to 3 years and fine of 3,000 to 10,000 Kuwaiti Dinars.
  • Aiding/abetting a person to escape compulsory treatment: imprisonment for 1 to 3 years and fine of 1,000 to 5,000 Kuwaiti Dinars.
  • Disclosure of patient’s mental health secrets: imprisonment for 3 months to 2 years and fine 1,000 to 5,000 Kuwaiti Dinars.

The law is progressive as it not just focuses on treatment of mental health but also reformation and rehabilitation. The Ministry of Health under the law would encourage establishing the patient rehabilitation centres. Also, the Ministry of Health shall grant license to private shelter as well who come forth to help treating such mental health patients. Mental Health Law is progressive step in improving the healthcare facilities for patients and de-stigmizing the patients who are successfully treated.