Mental health admissions fall 6%


The number of involuntary admission to mental health institutions fell by 6 per cent last year, according to new figures published today.

The 2008 annual report from the Mental Health Commission includes a call for continued investment in new services and facilities and the setting up of a specific directorate to oversee mental health services.

The commission’s annual report includes a review of mental health services around the country

Last year there were 2,004 involuntary admissions to mental health institutions, down from 2,126 a year earlier.

Reflecting the decline in admissions, the number of Mental Health Tribunal hearings fell by 7 per cent from 2,248 to 2,096. However, the percentage of orders revoked at hearings remained steady at 11.5 per cent.

Approximately 58 per cent of individuals admitted to institutions last year were females compared to 42 per cent of men.

There were eight children involuntarily admitted to centres last year, six of whom were to adult units.

The MHC said that the process of replacing Victorian asylum-type buildings with a modern mental health system must continue despite the current economic environment.

“It is more important than ever that the Government sticks to its commitment to ring-fence the proceeds of the sale of old mental health institutions and their surrounding lands, and spend the money on community health services,” said Dr Edmond O’Dea, chairman of the commission.

“Cutting budgets for mental health services will only make matters worse and will inevitably lead to a negative impact on service users,” he added.

Among the issues raised in the commission’s report is concern over the continued admittance of children to adult psychiatric facilities, the over use of medication, inadequate physical environments and a lack of specialised services outside of Dublin.

The commission’s annual report includes a call from the Inspector of Mental Health Services Dr Patrick Devitt for the HSE to set up a specific directorate within the executive to oversee mental health services.

According to a report published last year on behalf of the MHC, mental health problems cost the economy over €3 billion a year.

The Irish Mental Health Coalition (IMHC), which consists of a number of organisations including Amnesty International and Schizophrenia Ireland, today expressed alarm at the lack of improvement in mental health services and called for the closure of facililties

“We need to ensure the full powers available to the Mental Health Commission are now used to compel the closure of sub-standard facilities unless and until they meet minimum standards of treatment and care. It has the statutory powers and duties to threaten to close the facilities that it says are failing,” said John Saunders, chairman of the IMHC.