Mental health care concepts in legal regulation problematic aspects

Valdas Benkunskas


In the present article, the author analyses problems of usage of a terminology in mental health care law. Usage of a specific legal terminology in mental health care as a specialized health care is rooted in a psychiatric science. Direct transfer of the terminology from medical sciences and usage of it in legal language can be risky since the medical terms are constantly changing and the change effects both lexical and semantic relation. With every new concept the lexical-semantic the change of new or even non-existent conceptual meanings occurs, caused by new ideals, moral and ethical standards. Appropriate changes should take place in the legal regulation as well. However, often the legislative change of terminology does not occur at the same time and it causes not only inaccuracy but also violation of ethical standards.
The usage of the terms in mental health legal regulation is problematic because it is unlike in other health care fields, specifically deals with the rights and protection issues of people with mental and behavioural disorders. The legal regulation is aimed to work accurately and reliably for the best of those individuals. In practice, however, there are cases in which mental health regulation of the legal terms used ambiguously, observed homonymy and synonymy cases. The terms are often used relying on non-developed normative definitions, intuitive notion. Such usage of terms causes legal discrepancies and prevents of achieving the legal regulatory objectives in mental health care.
Author of this article provides an analysis of the basic concepts of mental health terminology in the legislation. Firstly, scholar analyzes mental health ant the mental illness concepts and contents. The last part provides content analysis of mental patient concept.
Therefore, the content analyses of these concepts are to intend and to disclose the usage of health care terminologies some problematic aspects. The research is relevant and at the theoretical level. For the first time in the Health law doctrine of Lithuania is systematically analyzing the questions of mental health terminology legislation


mental health; mental patient; mental illness; mental disorder; patient

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"Health Policy and Management" ISSN online 2029-9001 / ISSN print 2029-3569