Experts say Ireland’s mental health law requires urgent reform
Experts in Irish mental health law today called for the Government to swiftly update the Mental Health Act, 2001 to bring it into line with international human rights standards. The experts were speaking at a seminar organised by Mental Health Reform, the national coalition on mental health, in collaboration with Mental Health Ireland, entitled Mental Health and Human Rights in Practice.
Speaking at the event, CEO of Mental Health Reform, Dr Shari McDaid, said, “We are delighted to collaborate with Mental Health Ireland on a seminar today that draws attention to important debates around Ireland’s mental health law. We know that Ireland’s mental health law is out of step with international human rights norms and does not give adequate protection to the rights of people who go into hospital for mental health treatment.”
Dr McDaid continued, “Our recent research has indicated that many people using mental health services do not feel that they are being treated with dignity and respect, and they do not feel that they have enough choice and control over their mental health treatment, such as the medications they are given.”
Dr McDaid concluded, “Successive Governments have repeatedly failed to meet their own timetable for updating fundamental aspects of Ireland’s mental health law, especially the Mental Health Act, 2001, which is not in compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) or the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (UNCRPD). Given that Ireland’s has now ratified the UNCRPD, the Mental Health Act, 2001 needs to be updated without any further delay so that people can be assured that their rights will be protected when in hospital for mental health treatment.”
Martin Rogan, CEO of Mental Health Ireland, said, ‘While Ireland has made significant progress in modernising Irish mental health legislation, we can’t pause here. There is further work to do to ensure that the human rights of people who use mental health services are fully respected both in law and in practice.”