Mental Health Reform has today (22/07/2015) described a Mental Health Commission report on suicides in mental health services as “disturbing”. The report examines mental health services in Carlow, Kilkenny and South Tipperary in the wake of the suicides of 13 service users between January 2012 and March 2014.
Shari McDaid, Director of Mental Health Reform, commented: “This review of mental health services in Carlow, Kilkenny and South Tipperary makes for disturbing reading. Mental health services are used to support those in severe mental and emotional distress, and should at the very least offer people safe care. However, this report highlights serious gaps during the period examined, including in risk assessment, in the supervision of clinical staff and in staffing.”
“Mental health services should routinely carry out risk assessments and ensure that risk management plans are in place, in order to keep people safe. Likewise, good clinical governance is vital for a good quality, safe service. The Mental Health Commission should not have to make recommendations on what should be normal practice. It is extremely worrying that lives may have been lost due to lack of risk assessment and poor clinical governance. The fact that the HSE says that 11 out of the report’s 19 recommendations have now been fully implemented is of some reassurance. However, we will not be fully reassured until a system is in place to ensure that these recommendations are implemented on an ongoing basis and across the whole country”, continued Dr McDaid.
“Two recommendations on staffing have not yet been fully implemented and should be addressed urgently. These relate to the need to fully staff multidisciplinary mental health teams and to appoint senior clinical staff. Overstretched staff who don’t have access to supervision from a senior staff member cannot be expected to provide the support that people need. More broadly, this report underscores the need for continued investment in community-based mental health services and in 24/7 crisis intervention services to support people at a particularly vulnerable time in their lives”, added Dr McDaid.
“There is also a serious need for robust monitoring of community based services, on a statutory footing. Currently we do not have statutory regulation or inspection of community-based mental health services. This needs to be addressed as a priority”, concluded Dr McDaid.