More follow-up needed for mental health patients, according to public consultation
People who have used mental health services in Ireland say more resources are needed for their post-discharge follow-up, according to submissions from the public consultation on the Mental Health Law Review.
One hundred submissions were made between March and April and came from people who have used mental health services, family members, NGOs and health care providers.
In July of this year, the government approved the draft outline of a mental health bill (amendment), in order to update the mental health law.
The health ministry said the project was informed by the submissions, which were released on Tuesday.
One hospitalized person said there was no adequate care upon discharge.
“There was no plan in place, just to get to the clinic at my local primary care facility. I thought that there would be organization of a support person or courses that I could do in the community. I was very wrong.
They said any classes or therapies they wanted to attend had long waiting lists or were not accessible.
The person also said that her family, with whom she lived, was not supported enough and that she was only given her diagnosis when she asked for it.
Another person said they were involuntarily detained over ten years ago due to an adverse reaction to an SSRI drug.
They said they had been traumatized by their experience and that their detention “seemed to come out of the Dark Ages or Ireland of the 1970s.”
They spoke of the loss of their teaching careers and the redundancy of the term “volunteer” in practice.
“In my notes, it says that I was a volunteer, but if I insisted on leaving the hospital, I would have to be detained and reclassified as non-voluntary. The system seems to have taken the word “voluntary” and reinvented it. ”
Another person recounted how their daughter was forced into treatment in Dublin, more than 50 miles from the family home.
She also said her daughter had to fight to stay in the wards once she turned 18. “As an adult, during her first visit to adult services, she was told that she would be referred to her GP. It was as if his story did not exist.
A number of submissions from psychiatrists, doctors and other medical professionals expressed concern about some of the expert group’s recommendations on updating the mental health law.
In particular, concerns were expressed about changing the criteria required for involuntary detention. Some submissions have indicated that this could lead to a deterioration in the mental health of patients who suffer from psychosis, to the point that they enter the criminal justice system.
Potential delays in treatment following any changes in the law were also raised as a concern, as was the ability of some patients to consent to treatment, if they did not accept or understand the extent of their treatment. mental illness.
Disability advocacy groups, the LGBTQ community and groups representing Travelers also commented, saying the specific circumstances of these marginalized groups should be taken into account when it comes to mental health treatment. .
According to the Department of Health, more than half of the submissions provided views on advocacy.
The ministry said that in the new, updated law, a person will have the statutory right to engage with a lawyer, and if they consent, information about their treatment can be given to family members.
The department said it would now work with the attorney general’s office to draft the mental health bill, and that the general outline of the bill would be subject to pre-legislative review by the Oireachtas health committee. .