Press Release

Minister announces formation of Expert Group on Mental Health Policy

Mr. Tim O´Malley, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with special responsibility for mental health today (4th August 2003) announced the establishment of an Expert Group on Mental Health Policy. The Group, chaired by Professor Joyce O´Connor, President of the National College of Ireland, will prepare a new national policy framework for the mental health services to replace the existing policy document, Planning for the Future, which was published in 1984.

“The ongoing implementation of the vision set out in Planning for the Future has resulted in a sustained decline over the past two decades in the number of in-patients in our psychiatric hospitals, with a corresponding increase in a range of care facilities based in the community”, the Minister said. “However, it is now widely acknowledged that a new policy framework is needed, to take account of recent legislative reform, innovative developments in the care and treatment of mental illness and the views of those who use the services, as well as those who work within them.”

It is envisaged that the Expert Group will examine, inter alia: models of care, the respective roles of medication and complementary therapies, measures to reduce stigma, and psychiatric services for specialised groups such as the homeless, prisoners and children/adolescents. The Group is expected to consult widely with interested parties and to complete its work within 18 months.

The members of the Expert Group are:

  1. Professor Joyce O´Connor, President, National College of Ireland (Chair)
  2. Dr. Dermot Walsh, Inspector of Mental Hospitals
  3. Dr. John Owens, Chairman, Mental Health Commission
  4. Ms. Bairbre Nic Aongusa, Principal, Mental Health Division, DoHC
  5. Dr. Justin Brophy, Consultant Psychiatrist, Wicklow Mental Health Service
  6. Dr. Colette Halpin, Consultant Child & Adolescent Psychiatrist, MHB
  7. Dr. Mary Kelly, Consultant Psychiatrist (Intellectual Disability), Brothers of Charity, Limerick
  8. Mr .John Saunders, Director, Schizophrenia Ireland
  9. Mr. Paddy McGowan, Director, Irish Advocacy Network
  10. Mr. Michael Hughes, Assistant to the Inspector of Mental Hospitals and Director of Nursing, Wicklow Mental Health Service
  11. Dr. Terry Lynch, GP and Psychotherapist, Limerick
  12. Mr. Edward Boyne, Psychotherapist, Dublin & Galway
  13. Ms. Mary Groeger, Occupational Therapy Manager, North Cork -SHB
  14. Mr. Noel Brett, Programme Manager for Mental Health & Older People, WHB
  15. Ms. Cathy Eastwood, Social Worker, University College Hospital, Galway
  16. Mr. Brendan Byrne, Director of Nursing (Acting), Carlow Mental Health Service
  17. Mr. Cormac Walsh, Mental Health Nursing Advisor, DoHC
  18. Dr. Tony Bates, Principal Psychologist, St. James´s Hospital, Dublin