Press Release

Minister addresses First Meeting of New Mental Health Commission

Mr. Micheál Martin T.D., Minister for Health and Children today (Tuesday 16th April, 2002) addressed the inaugural meeting of the Mental Health Commission in the Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin. The Commission is being established under the provisions of the Mental Health Act, 2001.

The Mental Health Commission will be an independent statutory body,whose primary function will be to promote and foster high standards and good practices in the delivery of mental health services and to ensure that the interests of detained persons are protected. “The Commission´s independent status will be crucial in driving the agenda for change and modernisation in the mental health services in the coming years” the Minister said.

The Commission is chaired by Dr. John Owens, Consultant Psychiatrist and former Clinical Director of the Cavan/Monaghan Mental Health Service. Dr. Owens has been to the forefront of innovation in mental health service delivery in recent years with the development, under his leadership, of the home-based treatment model in the Cavan-Monaghan service. The other members of the Commission include representatives of the medical, nursing and paramedical professions, voluntary bodies and mental health service users.

The Commission will arrange for an independent review, by a Mental Health Tribunal, of all decisions to detain a patient on an involuntary basis and each decision to extend the duration of such detentions. The Commission will also be the registration authority for all hospitals and in-patient facilities providing psychiatric care and treatment. The existing office of the Inspector of Mental Hospitals will be replaced with the office of the Inspector of Mental Health Services, who will be employed by the Commission.

In his address, the Minister referred to the high rate of involuntary admissions to psychiatric facilities in Ireland.

“It is hoped that the introduction of the new mental health legislation, with its more stringent procedures for involuntary detention, will result in a decline in the number of involuntary admissions, bringing practice in this country more into line with the rest of Europe”. the Minister stated.

The members of the commission are:

  1. Dr. John Owens, Consultant Psychiatrist and former Clinical Director, North-Eastern Health Board (Chairman);
  2. Dr. Anne Byrne-Lynch, Senior Clinical Psychologist, Adult Mental Health Services, St. Luke´s Hospital, Clonmel;
  3. Mr. Joe Casey, Mental Health Ireland, Wexford;
  4. Mr. Gerry Coone, Psychiatric Nurse, St. Brigid´s Hospital, Ballinasloe and National Chairperson, Psychiatric Nurses Association;
  5. Mr. Padraig Heverin, Psychiatric Nurse, St. Mary´s Hospital, Castlebar;
  6. Mr. Diarmuid McGuinness, S.C.;
  7. Dr. Deirdre Murphy, General Practitioner, Dublin 4.;
  8. Dr. Finbarr O´Leary, Clinical Director, Child & Adolescent Psychiatric Services, Southern Health Board;
  9. Mr. Diarmuid Ring, lecturer on mental health issues and service user, Cork;
  10. Ms. Annie Ryan, campaigner on mental health issues, Dublin;
  11. Ms. Vicki Somers, Social Worker, St. Ita´s Hospital, Portrane;
  12. Mr. Mike Watts, National Co-ordinator, GROW and former service user;
  13. Ms. Maureen Windle, CEO, Northern Area Health Board.