Mental Health Reform call on Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health to Urgently Update Mental Health Act, 2001 - Mental Health Reform

May 17th, 2017

Mental Health Reform call on Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health to Urgently Update Mental Health Act, 2001

Mental Health Reform will today call on the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health to urgently consider the Mental Health (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2017 before the summer recess, in order to strengthen the rights of people when they are in hospital for mental health treatment.

Speaking ahead of the debate, Director of Mental Health Reform, Shari McDaid, said “People who need inpatient treatment for acute mental distress cannot wait any longer for their rights to be fully protected.The Mental Health (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2017, needs to be brought quickly before the Committee for consideration, so that it can continue its swift passage through the Dáil and into law.”

Dr. McDaid continued, “Successive Governments have repeatedly failed to meet their own timetable for updating the Mental Health Act, 2001. A recent evaluation of involuntary detention commissioned by the Mental Health Commission has shown that some service users feel coerced, disempowered and unsupported when being admitted to a psychiatric inpatient unit and that this had a long-term negative impact on their recovery. It is vital that mental health service users are reassured about their rights when in hospital so that they can confidently seek help. This Committee now has the chance to make a real difference to people’s lives by quickly prioritising this Bill and pushing the Government to publish the full legislation to update the Act in line with the recommendations of the Expert Group.”

Mental Health Reform will urge the Joint Committee to hold the Government and Fianna Fáilto account on their commitment in the Confidence and Supply Arrangementto fully implement A Vision for Change.

Dr. McDaid said, “The Government and Fianna Fáilhave made a clear commitment in their Confidence and Supply Arrangementto deliver on the full implementation of A Vision for Change.Yet we find ourselves today, a full year since the Government formed and a decade after A Vision for Change was published, with a shortfall of €20M inthe funding for 2017 required to deliver this policy and staffing at just 79% of the recommended level.It is time the Government was held to account for this commitment.”

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About Mental Health Reform

Mental Health Reform is the national coalition promoting improved mental health services and the social inclusion of people with mental health difficulties. The coalition currently has 57 member organisations. See www.mentalhealthreform.ie for more details. Mental Health Reform acknowledges the support of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019.

Notes to Editors:

Link to the Mental Health (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2017
Link to MHR Briefing note on the Mental Health (Amendment) (No.2) Bill 2017
Link to the copy of MHR’s Opening Statement to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on Health
• The Mental Health Commission commissioned research into service users’ experience of the operation of the Mental Health Act, 2001. Carried out by academics from NUI Galway and Trinity College Dublin, the lead author was Dr. Colm McDonald and the full report is available from the College of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences, NUI Galway.
• In 2017 there has been a reduction in mental health funding as a proportion of the overall health budget from approximately 6.4% in 2016 to 6% in 2017. The 2017 figure also constitutes a reduction from 13% in the 1980s. The 2017 budget allocated just €15M for development expenditure in 2017, while at a minimum, €35.4 million in development funding is required every year for the next five years to implement the recommendations of A Vision for Change.


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