Sunday, July 29, 2007

Review of Mental Health Act 2001 published

The Department of Health and Children has published a review of the Mental Health Act 2001 which is available at

The review suggests very few changes to the Act, but some interesting points include the following:
  • The Minister accepts in principle that the references to "unwilling" in sections 59 and 60 should be removed, but this will need to be done in the context of any new capacity legislation
  • The Minister accepts that there appears to be a drafting error in section 61
  • As consultant numbers increase consideration should be given to reducing the 14 day time period allowed for in section 17(1)(c)(iii) to receive the second consultant’s report. This would also facilitate the earlier scheduling of Mental Health Tribunals and provide earlier access by patients and their legal advisors to the second opinion reports prior to hearings.
  • When a voluntary patient has a mental disorder and requires involuntary admission for treatment, the use of the normal involuntary admission procedures is preferred. The status of patients should not lightly be changed from voluntary to involuntary, and the rights of patients in this regard must be fully safeguarded. The legal scope for using the normal admission procedures under sections 9 and 10 will be examined.
  • The Act should be amended when a suitable opportunity arises to provide for the closure of approved centres.
  • A monitoring group, consisting of representatives of the Department of Health and Children, the Department of Justice, Equality and Law Reform, the HSE, the Mental Health Commission, service providers and service users should be established to address any difficulties with the Mental Health Act 2001, to oversee the linkages between the Mental Health Act 2001 and the Criminal Law (Insanity) Act 2006 and to contribute to the development of any proposed capacity legislation.