Mental Health Act review must protect human rights

1 March 2013

Protections for those detained under the Mental Health Act must be improved, a seminar organised by Amnesty International Ireland will hear today.

The 2001 Mental Health Act, which governs involuntary admission, detention and treatment, is not human rights compliant and must be urgently updated. This seminar will hear from leading national and international experts discuss key issues, including the issue of ‘risk’ and the definition of ‘voluntary’ and ‘involuntary’ patients.

Fiona Crowley, Research and Legal Manager, Amnesty International Ireland, said: “We only have a narrow window of opportunity to ensure we update the Mental Health Act so it is in line with the latest human rights standards. This seminar provides the opportunity to examine the more complex issues with national and international experts.”

Rory Doody’s experience shows just how important it is to get the law right. "I can clearly recall how my admission made me feel, because long after the ‘symptoms’ had receded, it took a year (I honestly believe) to begin to get over the shame, guilt and fear that accompanied a hospital admission."

View the videos from the conference.

The speakers are Amnesty International Ireland’s seminar include:
George Szmukler, Professor of Psychiatry and Society, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London
Phil Fennell, Prof of Law, Cardiff University
Claire Murray, Lecturer in Law, University College Cork
Rory Doody, Peer Advocate, Home Focus Team, National Learning Network, West Cork Mental Health Services
Patricia Gilheaney, CEO Mental Health Commission

Read the Interim Report of the Steering Group on the Review of the Mental Health Act 2001.
Read Amnesty International Ireland’s response to the Interim Report.