Family input in psychiatry


Sir, – Dr William Flannery’s well-considered article “Family input should not be mandatory for mental illness”(Opinion & Analysis, June 2nd) highlights important aspects considered in often complex situations in mental health services.

Family input in psychiatry is not a rarity, as exemplified in the HSE’s National Clinical Programmes and the “Open Dialogue” approaches in Cork and Navan Mental Health services, which all emphasise family and network involvement.

Equally, it is arguable that more can and needs to be done to facilitate the presence of loved ones chosen and deemed safe and beneficial by patients to be part of the healing process, irrespective of the nature of their illness.

This may very well involve a paradigm and cultural shift from the traditional one-to-one interaction between a patient and a clinical expert which may not meet the needs nor make full use of the strengths in resources of clinicians, allied health professionals, patients, carers, friends and families alike. – Yours, etc,


Consultant Psychiatrist

and Senior Lecturer,

Trinity College Dublin,

Dublin 2.