Egypt’s House of Representatives approved, on Monday, a government-proposed draft law amending some of the provisions under the country’s mental health care law No 71 of 2009.
The amendments were discussed and approved at an earlier session in April 2020, with today’s parliamentary approval given after a final vote.
The law aims to protect the rights of people with mental illness, providing them with more protection against any forms of abuse or exploitation. It also provides mechanisms for legal accountability in case of any violations.
The bill stipulates that a National Council for Mental Health shall be formed, per a decision by the Prime Minister. The council is set to supervise and monitor regional councils of mental health, and set policies that ensure patient safety and respect of their rights. At the same time, the council will also ensure the implementation of the mental health patient’s care law, in addition to other missions.
The amendments include a new chapter regulating the practice of non-psychiatric professions, covering psychotherapists implementing treatment plans. This will occur under the supervision of a psychiatrist, in which the psychotherapists will use cognitive, behavioural therapies and other treatments.
It stipulates that psychiatrists who practice the profession without a licence will face imprisonment for a period not exceeding two years, a maximum fine of EGP 50,000, or both.
The amendments also prohibit the compulsory admission of any person for treatment at mental health facilities, without the approval of a psychiatrist. Their treatment at such facilities will only occur in case of obvious signs of severe mental illness requiring treatment at a suitable facility.
The patient’s admission, according to the law, shall be in two cases: if signs of mental illness represent a serious threat to the patient’s life or the health and safety of others; or there is a provable possibility of an impending severe deterioration in the patient’s mental health.