Mental Health Reform welcomes deletion of “unwilling” from Mental Health Act

Mental Health Reform, the national coalition on mental health, has today (18/12/2015) welcomed the passage in the Oireachtas of legislation to delete the word ‘unwilling” from the Mental Health Act 2001.
This deletion will end the legal basis for administering ECT and, beyond three months, medication, against a capable person’s will. The deletion of ‘unwilling’ also represents a first step in updating Ireland’s Mental Health Act to comply with international human rights law, however significant shortfalls still exist in the current Act. The coalition now seeks a firm commitment to legislating in 2016 for the full scope of revisions needed on foot of the Report of the Expert Group on the Review of the Mental Health Act, 2001.
Shari McDaid, Director of Mental Health Reform, said: “Mental Health Reform continues to have grave concerns about the lack of adequate human rights protection under the Mental Health Act for individuals’ human rights. Voluntary patients do not have basic rights to information and advocacy, involuntary patients do not have the right to have their advance wishes about treatment respected, and so-called ‘voluntary’ inpatients who lack capacity do not have any independent oversight of their de facto detention. These are gaps that require urgent attention.”
“We are also concerned about the continuing lack of an independent route for making a complaint about mental health services. This is an issue that has been raised by people who use mental health services and their family members 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. We reiterate our call for an independent complaints mechanism for mental health services,” Dr McDaid concluded.

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