Chapter 4. The Impact of Legislation on Mental Health Policy

  1. Norman Sartorius5,
  2. Wolfgang Gaebel6,
  3. Juan José López-Ibor7 and
  4. Mario Maj8
  1. José M. Bertolote1,
  2. José G. Taborda2,
  3. Julio Arboleda-Flórez3 and
  4. Francisco Torres4

Published Online: 29 APR 2002

DOI: 10.1002/0470846488.ch4

Psychiatry in Society

Psychiatry in Society

How to Cite

Bertolote, J. M., Taborda, J. G., Arboleda-Flórez, J. and Torres, F. (2002) The Impact of Legislation on Mental Health Policy, in Psychiatry in Society (eds N. Sartorius, W. Gaebel, J. J. López-Ibor and M. Maj), John Wiley & Sons, Ltd, Chichester, UK. doi: 10.1002/0470846488.ch4

Editor Information

  1. 5

    University of Geneva, Switzerland

  2. 6

    University of Düsseldorf, Germany

  3. 7

    Complutense University of Madrid, Spain

  4. 8

    University of Naples, Italy

Author Information

  1. 1

    Department of Mental Health and Substance Dependence, World Health Organization, 20 Avenue Appia, CH-1211 Geneva 27, Switzerland

  2. 2

    Faculty of Medicine, Universidade Luterana do Brazil, Rua Bororó 55, 91900-540 Porto Alegre, RS, Brazil

  3. 3

    Department of Psychiatry, Queen's University, Hotel Dieu Hospital, 166 Brock Street, Kingston, Ontario K7L 5G2, Canada

  4. 4

    Universidad de Granada, Departamento de Psiquiatría, Facultad de Medicina, Avenida de Madrid 11, 18071 Granada, Spain

Publication History

  1. Published Online: 29 APR 2002
  2. Published Print: 30 APR 2002

ISBN Information

Print ISBN: 9780471496823

Online ISBN: 9780470846483



  • mental health legislation;
  • mental health policy;
  • mental health care;
  • psychiatric treatment;
  • psychiatric hospitalization;
  • community-based care;
  • Brazil;
  • Canada;
  • Spain


This chapter discusses the relationships between mental health legislation and mental health policy. As a background, it reviews the major legal traditions around the world, and the UN Resolution on the rights of people with mental disorders and the improvement of mental health care services, categorizing its 25 Principles into political, technical and judiciary issues. The discussion centres on the mutual impact between legislation and policy, with emphasis given to (i) human rights issues, (ii) the growing importance of the distinction between treatment and hospitalizations, and (iii) the translation of new, progressive concepts into service delivery. The tensions and complementarity between hospital-based care and community-based care are explored in terms of both policy and legislation. The discussion is highlighted by examples from Brazil, Canada and Spain.