Steering Group of the Review of the Mental Health Act: Interim Report

We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Dr. Claire Murray of University College Cork.

The Interim Report was published on the 21 June 2012 and followed a commitment in the Programme for Government to conduct a review of the Mental Health Act 2001 (MHA 2001) “in consultation with service users, carers and other stakeholders, informed by human rights standards.” The complete report is due to be published in late 2012/early 2013.

Continue reading “Steering Group of the Review of the Mental Health Act: Interim Report”

Steering Group of the Review of the Mental Health Act: Interim Report

World Mental Health Day

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”

World Mental Health Day

Still "insane". But for how much longer…?

We are pleased to welcome this guest post from Dr. Louise Kennefick, Lecturer in Law at NUI Maynooth.

With the news that the Department of Justice and Equality is to conduct a review of the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006 (as amended), the insanity defence is back in the limelight once again, and not a moment too soon. The recent Report of the European Committee for the Prevention of Torture and Inhuman or Degrading Treatment or Punishment, court proceedings (e.g. D.P.P. v. W.B. discussed below), and A Vision for Change have all played their part in mobilising the government. Continue reading “Still "insane". But for how much longer…?”

Still "insane". But for how much longer…?

Moving Towards Modern Legislation on Legal Capacity in Ireland

The Centre for Disability Law and Policy recently prepared a submission to the Oireachtas Justice Committee on the Scheme of proposed legislation that will radically overhaul Irish law on legal capacity.  The full submission is available here.

The core message of the submission was that the fields of mental health law, non-discrimination, and legal capacity can no longer be considered separately.  In this regard the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities “recognises that considering these issues in separate silos was wrong and that the artificial lines drawn between these separate fields are increasingly blurred” and it is important to consider the impact the proposed legal capacity legislation on general non-discrimination provisions and mental health law in particular.  The submission highlighted that Article 12 of the CRPD on legal capacity is at the core of the Convention and that equal recognition as a person before the law is key to the enjoyment of all other rights.  The submission also flagged that the assumption of legal capacity, and the obligation on states to provide supports to people with disabilities in order to enable them to exercise their legal capacity flows from this recognition, and these are the key attributes, which need to be embedded in Irish law, in order to ensure compliance Continue reading “Moving Towards Modern Legislation on Legal Capacity in Ireland”

Moving Towards Modern Legislation on Legal Capacity in Ireland

Guest Contribution: Doyle on The Right to a Public Hearing for Persons with Mental Disabilities

We are delighted to welcome this guest post from Suzanne Doyle, a PhD candidate and IRCHSS scholar at University College Cork Faculty and Department of Law.

The recent decision of the Administrative Appeals Chamber of the Upper Tribunal in the case of A.H. v. West London Mental Health Trust & Anor (17th of February 2011) represents a substantial step forward in the utilisation of the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities (hereafter ‘CRPD’) at the domestic level post-ratification and is likely to serve as a useful template for Irish applicants taking similar proceedings when Ireland fulfils its commitment to ratify the CRPD, having been one of the first signatories on the 30th of March 2007. Continue reading “Guest Contribution: Doyle on The Right to a Public Hearing for Persons with Mental Disabilities”

Guest Contribution: Doyle on The Right to a Public Hearing for Persons with Mental Disabilities

Guest Contribution: Morrissey on Advance Directives in Mental Health Care

We are pleased to welcome this guest contribution from Fiona Morrissey, a PhD candidate in NUI Galway and lecturer and librarian in Athlone IT. You can find out more about Fiona on our guests page.

Advance directives are statements by competent adults setting out their wishes in advance of incapacity. The inclusion of advance directives in psychiatric settings is part of an international impetus towards the entrenchment of human rights for persons with mental illness (see Weller, “Advance Directives and the Translation of Human Rights Principles in Mental Health Laws-Towards a Contextual Analysis”). Advance mental health directives allow competent individuals to specify their treatment preferences in advance of an incapacitating mental health crisis when they are unable to make decisions for themselves. The instrument is increasingly recognised as a valuable mechanism by which the rights of persons with mental illness can be respected during periods of incapacity. The main theoretical rationale behind advance directives is the enhancement of patient autonomy but the measure also has the potential to ameliorate some of the negative consequences of mental illness. Advance directives were originally developed to allow people to make decisions regarding end of life care (O’Reilly, R., “The Capacity to Execute an Advance Directive for Psychiatric Treatment”). The concept of the ‘living will’ was then extended to the mental health context enabling people to express their future treatment choices prior to incapacity. Historically, persons with mental illness have not been afforded the opportunity to become involved in their treatment decisions (Deegan, “The Independent Living Movement and People with Psychiatric Disabilities: Taking back Control over our own Lives”).  Many patients still have little influence over their destiny during a mental health crisis and are excluded from participation in many life decisions once deemed incapable. Advance directives offer a novel solution to this dilemma by enabling treatment choices to be asserted during periods of decision making capacity. The measure serves to restore the voice of the individual at a time when it is most often disregarded. Continue reading “Guest Contribution: Morrissey on Advance Directives in Mental Health Care”

Guest Contribution: Morrissey on Advance Directives in Mental Health Care