Today in World Mental Health Day – and it provides us in Ireland with a lot to think about in terms of the way in which mental health services are provided and how our mental health laws are constituted. The key policy document on mental health is entitled “A Vision for Change” and the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, which was established to monitor its implementation have been very critical to date in their five annual reports on the lack of progress in implementation. See here. In its most recent report it was critical of the absence of a recovery ethos within mental health services. This is a major challenge that has to be addressed as principles of recovery are at the core of the philosophy underpinning “A Vision for Change”. While there is much to be dismayed about we are at an important crossroads in Ireland in relation to our mental health laws. The Department of Health is in the process of reviewing of the Mental Health Act 2001, while the Department of Justice is similarily reviewing the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006. This provides a significant opportunity to rethink our mental health laws in light of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (CRPD), which the Government is working towards Continue reading “World Mental Health Day”
We are very pleased to welcome this guest post from Dr. Claire Murray, Lecturer in Law at University College Cork.
Under section 51 of the Mental Health Act 2001 (MHA 2001) the Inspector of Mental Health Services is required to visit every approved centre in the country at least once during the year and to report to the Mental Health Commission. The Commission has a statutory responsibility to promote high standards and good practices in the delivery of mental health services. The 2010 Annual Report of the Commission was published on the 2nd June 2011. As with previous annual reports the slow rate of change in mental health service provision is emphasised. This delay in moving to a modern rights-based mental health framework is particularly frustrating when, as stated by the Inspector, “mental health services have been traditionally neglected, need radical reform/modernisation, are chronically under-resourced and deal with individuals with severe conditions which adversely affect themselves, their families and society.”
Human Rights in Ireland is delighted to welcome this guest post from Bríd Nic Suibhne, Law Reform Commission. This post is published in Bríd’s personal capacity and may not necessarily reflect the views of the Law Reform Commission.
The Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 is a broad and inclusive statement of rights, granting considerable weight to rights of protection and participation, representing a pair of principles of equal import. The coupling of protection and participation rights can however lead to an uneasy relationship which comes sharply into focus in the context of healthcare decision making.
The interpretation of the broad spectrum of rights and protections granted by the Convention is guided by Article 3(1):
In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.
This best interests principle has gained broad acceptance, is used in various other international instruments, and features prominently in debates and discourse on children’s rights. On the surface the principle of best interests seems relatively self explanatory. This apparent simplicity is, however, in direct contrast with the myriad of meanings attributed to it, as different commentators attempt to define what the interests of children are and what best serves these interests in different situations. Decisions on what course of action is in a child’s best interests can be indeterminate, speculative, individualised and paternalistic. Continue reading “Nic Suibhne on Children's Rights and Health Care”