Press Release

Minister Tim O’Malley highlights Developments in Mental Health Services

Mr. Tim O’Malley, T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, with special responsibility for mental health, today (29th November 2006) reported on a number of developments in mental health services.

A Vision for Change” which was published earlier this year sets out Government policy for our mental health services for the next 7-10 years. The Minister said that, “when fully implemented, we will have a modern, high-quality mental health service”. The report contains some 200 recommendations. Implementation of the vast majority of these is a matter for the Health Service Executive. The Minister added that progress has been made in implementing “A Vision for Change” and in protecting the rights of people with mental illness.

Additional funding of €26.2 million was provided in 2006 to develop mental health services in line with “A Vision for Change” (This includes additional funding of €1.2 million for suicide prevention initiatives). This, said the Minister, “brings the total expenditure on mental health services to €835 million”.

The Mental Health Act, 2001 became fully operational on 1st November this year. Each involuntary admission requires an independent second opinion from a consultant psychiatrist. The Minister said that in addition, all involuntary detentions are subject to an automatic and independent review by a mental health tribunal within 21 days of signing the detention order.

The Inspector of Mental Health Services was appointed in 2002. All psychiatric hospitals and units, including private facilities, are inspected at least once a year. The Mental Health Commission has introduced rules governing the use of ECT and the use of bodily restraint and seclusion and has issued Codes of Practices relating to the use of physical restraint in approved centres.

The HSE established an implementation group in July 2006 to ensure that mental health services develop in a synchronised and consistent manner across the country and to guide and resource service managers and clinicians in making the recommendations a reality.

Minister. O’Malley added “the Government is firmly committed to the recommendations in “A Vision for Change”. An independent monitoring group was established in March this year to monitor and assess progress on the implementation of the recommendations, including those which fall under the responsibility of the HSE, government departments and other relevant agencies. The group will report to me on an annual basis”.

A Mental Health Service User Executive is being established by the HSE.

The Minister also pointed out that the total number of admissions to mental health facilities have been steadily declining since the late 1980’s. The total number of admissions and involuntary detentions of under 18s is also continuing to decrease.

At present inpatient psychiatric services for young people aged 16 to 17 years (including those on an involuntary basis) are provided in adult psychiatric units. It is accepted that placement of children with mental health problems in adult facilities is inappropriate.

The HSE has put in place interim arrangements for the treatment of children in adult units, pending the provision of dedicated child and adolescent beds. All children admitted to adult units are treated on a one-to-one basis by appropriately trained staff. In addition the Mental Health Commission has issued Codes of Practices relating to the admission of children under the Mental Health Act 2001.