Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne TD says a new Bill put forward by his party will bring about much needed reform to mental health services right across the country.

The ‘Mental Health (Amendment) Bill 2017’ seeks to implement many of the recommendations contained in the 2015 report of the Expert Group on the Review of the Mental Health Act 2001.

The Bill is due to be debated in the Dáil later this evening.

Deputy Browne said, “It’s well acknowledged that significant reform of our mental health services is necessary. The Expert Group on the Review of the Mental Health Act made 165 recommendations surrounding the need to modernise structures and practices with our mental health services. However to date just one of these recommendations has been implemented. The Bill we have introduced will speed up the pace of reform.

“The Bill will deliver immediate improvements and legislative protections for adults and children accessing mental health services. It will also contribute to the Irish Government’s fulfillment of international human rights laws, including the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.

“One of the key changes put forward in the Bill is the clarification of the definition of a voluntary patient. The new definition will only include individuals with decision-making capacity and who have consented to admission for treatment. The Bill also enshrines the right for the patient to receive the highest attainable standard of mental health care and the right to receive the least restrictive treatment possible.

“The Bill will also reform the manner in which our mental health services care for children. It includes a new provision to ensure that each child has the right to be heard in decisions made regarding their treatment. Importantly, the Bill also affirms that consent to treatment is required by both voluntary and involuntary patients who have decision-making capacity to consent.

“It’s been clear for some time now that urgent reform is needed in our mental health services. The Bill we have put forward will help drive this reform in the right direction. I’m hopeful that the Bill receives cross-party support in the Dáil so that this reform can begin without any further delay. Fianna Fáil is also pushing for the establishment of an Oireachtas Committee on Mental Health. The purpose of this committee will be to monitor the reform of our mental health services and ensure that the issue is not allowed fall off the Government agenda,” concluded Deputy Browne.