Mental Health Reform calls on Government to urgently prohibit use of electro-convulsive therapy against an individual’s will

Press Release – For Immediate Release

Mental Health Reform calls on Government to urgently prohibit use of electro-convulsive therapy against an individual’s will

Mental Health Reform today called on Government to publish legislation urgently to prohibit the use of electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) against an individual’s will.

Commenting on the Mental Health Commission’s report on the use of ECT in 2012, Dr. Shari McDaid, Director of Mental Health Reform, said: “ECT was administered to 27 individuals without their consent in 2012, and to at least one capable adult against their will. Since 2008 there has been consensus on all sides of the Oireachtas that no one should be given ECT against their capable will. Three years on, Government has failed to end this practice.”

Dr. McDaid continued, “The use of ECT against a person’s will is contrary to international human rights law. The World Health Organisation stated in 2005 that ECT should only be administered “after obtaining informed consent.” More recently, the UN Special Rapporteur on torture and other cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment stated, in a report on torture in healthcare settings, that all countries should place an absolute ban on all forced and non-consensual medical interventions against people with disabilities, including the non-consensual administration of psychosurgery, electroshock and mind-altering drugs.”

“The Government needs to amend the current mental health legislation immediately to prohibit administration of ECT without consent. The Government also needs to ensure that people with mental health difficulties can put their preferences about ECT and other mental health treatments in writing in an advance directive and have that advance directive respected even when they are involuntarily detained,” continued Dr. McDaid.

“People with mental health difficulties deserve to have their human rights respected and to be able to make informed choices about their mental health treatment even when they are in hospital. The Government also made a commitment to review the Mental Health Act, 2001 in the light of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. The review was due to be completed by June 2012. While the issues are complex and relate to pending capacity legislation, there is a need to bring that review to a conclusion so that changes to the Mental Health Act can be progressed,” concluded Dr McDaid.

For more information please contact:
Dr Shari McDaid, Director of Mental Health Reform at
086 044 6696
Notes to the Editor:
Mental Health Reform promotes improved and prioritised mental health services in Ireland.


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