New mental health rules needed
Sir – Emer O’Kelly’s article (Sunday Independent, 7 June) suggests that calls to reduce the use of powerful psychotropic drugs to control challenging behaviour of people with severe mental health conditions and people with an intellectual disability is an unrealistic ideal, due to lack of resources.
Such a position is untenable in the context of Ireland’s obligations under international human rights law. In recent months, the Expert Group on the review of the Mental Health Act 2001 and the Government have both agreed that Ireland’s regulations on in-patient mental health centres should be extended to cover all forms of restraint. They have accepted that Ireland can do better. There is evidence that mental health services can achieve a dramatic reduction in the use of seclusion and physical restraint when a focussed initiative is implemented that includes leadership, staff training, appropriate policies and procedures, debriefing to the people who receive seclusion/restraint, and monitoring.
In the meantime, the health services should adopt policies to reduce the use of chemical restraint as a matter of priority.
Paddy Connolly, CEO, Inclusion Ireland
Shari McDaid, Director, Mental Health Reform, Dublin 7
Published in the Sunday Independent on 14th June 2015.