Civil commitment in Turkey: Reflections on a bill drafted by psychiatrists

Arikan R., Appelbaum P. S. , Sercan M., Turkcan S., Satmis N., Polat A. Ö.

INTERNATIONAL JOURNAL OF LAW AND PSYCHIATRY, vol.30, no.1, pp.29-35, 2007 (Journal Indexed in SSCI) identifier identifier identifier

  • Publication Type: Article / Article
  • Volume: 30 Issue: 1
  • Publication Date: 2007
  • Doi Number: 10.1016/j.ijlp.2006.01.001
  • Page Numbers: pp.29-35


Involuntary hospitalization of the mentally ill has been an issue that still remains outside the judicial system in Turkey. Despite the new Turkish Civil Code, which includes several articles relevant to involuntary psychiatric hospital admissions, there still appears to be a need for a comprehensive mental health law to address specific issues concerning civil commitment of the mentally ill. As a result of the lack of specific statutory regulation, an insufficient number of psychiatric hospital beds and limited appreciation of the safety risks involved in untreated mental illness, involuntary hospitalization remains an underutilized option by psychiatrists and the courts alike. In response to its concerned members, the Psychiatric Association of Turkey has appointed a task force to draft a proposed mental health law, entitled the "Psychiatric Patients' Bill of Rights." Although the draft suggests a model with emphasis on the right to psychiatric treatment, it also recommends close judicial oversight to prevent potential abuses of discretion by the system. However, this might present logistic problems in a country with already overburdened courts. Authors discuss the highlights of the draft within the context of Turkey's current cultural, social and judicial structure, and compare it to similar laws of other countries. (C) 2006 Published by Elsevier Inc.