Press Release

Minister O´Malley welcomes Mental Health Commission´s Strategic Plan

Mr Tim O´Malley, T.D. Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with special responsibility for Mental Health today (22nd March 2004) welcomed the publication of the Mental Health Commission´s Strategic Plan. The Mental Health Commission was established under the provisions of the Mental Health Act, 2001 and its primary functions are to protect the rights of involuntarily detained patients and to put in place mechanisms by which the standards of care and treatment in our mental health services can be monitored, inspected and regulated.

“I am committed to continuing to work with the Mental Health Commission, health boards and service providers in bringing about the necessary improvements and developments required within Mental Health Services, as resources become available” the Minister said.

Responding to the plan, the Minister accepted that Ireland has a significantly higher rate of involuntary admission than other European countries at present. However, it is anticipated that the full implementation of the Mental Health Act, 2001 with its more stringent procedures for involuntary detention, will significantly reduce the number of involuntary admissions, bringing practice in this country more into line with the rest of Europe. An additional€3 million was allocated to the Mental Health Commission in 2004 to enable it to commence the implementation of these provisions.

Since 1997, approximately €90m additional revenue funding has been invested in the mental health services. In the main, this funding is being used to provide additional medical and health professional staff for expanding community mental health services, to increase child and adolescent services, to expand the old age psychiatry services, to provide liaison psychiatry services in general hospitals and to enhance the support provided to voluntary agencies.

Funding provided under the National Development Plan has allowed for the development of additional acute psychiatric units linked to general hospitals as a replacement of services previously provided in psychiatric hospitals. In addition to the twenty-one acute units now in place, a number of units are currently at various stages of development.