Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne has introduced a new Bill into the Dáil which aims to reform Ireland’s mental health services.

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.

Deputy Browne said, “The Expert Group made 165 recommendations related to the updating of the Mental Health Act 2001. To date only one of these recommendations has been implemented. The pace of reforming our mental health services is far too slow. The Bill we have put forward seeks to address this problem.

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

“One of the key changes put forward in the Bill is to clarify the definition of a voluntary patient so that it includes only individuals with decision-making capacity and who have consented to admission. The Bill also seeks to ensure that people are given the right to the highest attainable standard of mental health and the right to receive the least restrictive care possible.

“The Bill also seeks to enhance awareness of the special needs of children when they interact with our mental health services. It proposes that each child has the right to be heard in decisions made regarding their care within the mental health service. The Bill also affirms that consent to treatment is required by both voluntary and involuntary patients who have decision-making capacity to consent.

“The proposals we have put forward are detailed and will help in the process of reforming our mental health services. It’s important that we move quickly to implement the recommendations made by the expert group. I’ll be working to secure cross-party support for the Bill so that we can make this a reality,” concluded Deputy Browne.