Amnesty International Ireland and Mental Health Reform, the national coalition on mental health, have together (05/03/2015) welcomed the publication by Minister for Primary and Social Care, Kathleen Lynch TD, of the Report of the Expert Group on the Review of the Mental Health Act 2001.
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, said: “Amnesty International welcomes the publication of the report today. We will now consider it in detail and respond to the Department accordingly. The Mental Health Act is outdated and in need of significant amendment if is it is to comply with today’s human rights standards. We hope that the necessary legislation is brought forward as quickly as possible.”
Speaking about the report, Mental Health Reform Director Dr Shari McDaid said: “It is clear that the Expert Group have sought to significantly improve the protections for people with a mental health difficulty who need inpatient treatment.”
“Mental Health Reform is pleased to see that the Expert Group have recommended a greater emphasis on the autonomy of people with mental health difficulties to make decisions about their own treatment; in this way the legislation will underpin a modern, recovery-oriented approach to mental health service delivery. It is also encouraging to see that better protections for vulnerable individuals who lack the capacity to make their own decisions are being recommended”.
“We welcome the recommendation to extend the remit of the Mental Health Commission and Inspector of Mental Health Services to include oversight of community based mental health services, where the majority of mental health treatment occurs. It is important that they are adequately resourced to properly fulfil their new role”, Dr McDaid said.
“We are very disappointed that the Expert Group did not recommend an independent route for making a complaint about mental health services. This is an issue that has been raised to Mental Health Reform time and time again; people have told us they are afraid to make a complaint for fear of consequences to their future use of services. Mental Health Reform reiterates our call for an independent complaints mechanism for mental health services”, Dr McDaid added.
“Finally, while we welcome the recommendation to remove the word ‘unwilling’ in the consent sections of the Act, we are concerned that until new legislation to amend the Act is drafted, we will continue to have a situation where people who have the capacity to make decisions about their own care can be given treatment against their capable will. We call on the Government to immediately introduce legislation to remove ‘unwilling’ from the Act in order to end this practice. We also welcome the Minister’s commitment that legislation on the remaining recommendations would be introduced before the end of this Government’s tenure”, concluded Dr McDaid.