Act To Help Mental Health Patients In Ireland

The remaining provisions of the Mental Health Act, 2001, are to come into effect on November 1. This will provide for the establishment of independent tribunals to review the legality of people being involuntarily detained in psychiatric facilities. Announcing the news, Health Minister, Mary Harney, said that the Health Service Executive (HSE), the Mental Health Commission and the Department of Health ‘are currently finalising preparations to ensure the smooth transition of the new arrangements under the Act’.

“The introduction of mental health tribunals to review all involuntary admissions represents an important step in the protection of the interests of people who suffer from mental disorders”, Minister Harney said.

The Act lays down the circumstances in which people may be admitted to or detained in mental health facilities against their will. This includes a provision which ensures that anyone who is involuntarily admitted to a facility undergoes a mandatory review before an independetal tribunal, that has been set up by the Mental Health Commission, within 21 days.

The announcement was welcomed by support group, Schizophrenia Ireland (SI).

“We welcome this extremely important and much anticipated development to help safeguard the rights of people with mental illness. We hope that the full implementation of the Act signals a more rational approach to involuntary admissions to psychiatric services and will lead to a reduction in involuntary detention from the present unacceptably high rate of 11%”, said SI director, John Saunders.