Involuntary psychiatric admission and treatment in Ireland is chiefly governed by the Mental Health Act 2001. The Irish government announced a review of the 2001 Act in July 2011, and the Report of the Expert Group on the Review of the Mental Health Act 2001 was published on 5 March 2015. The report, which constitutes advice to the Minister for Primary Care, Social Care (Disabilities & Older People) and Mental Health, presents 165 recommendations relating to virtually all areas of the Act. It recommends that ‘insofar as practicable, a rights based approach should be adopted throughout any revised mental health legislation’ and that the principle of ‘best interests’ should be replaced by an alternative set of principles as follows: ‘the enjoyment of the highest attainable standard of mental health, with the person’s own understanding of his or her mental health being given due respect; autonomy and self-determination; dignity (there should be a presumption that the patient is the person best placed to determine what promotes/compromises his or her own dignity); bodily integrity; and least restrictive care’. The Report presents a series of other recommendations aimed at increasing multi-disciplinary involvement in key decisions, promoting human rights and strengthening inspections of community facilities. Overall, the package of measures outlined in the Report is complex, interesting and worthy of debate.
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