One in six people in Northern Ireland suffers mental health problems, according to a report.
Laws for detaining people breaches human rights, report says
The study also suggests that many mentally capable patients are being forced to have treatment such as electro-convulsive therapy (ECT) against their will.
The report, entitled Mental Health and Human Rights, was published on Tuesday by the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission.
It concluded that current legislation for detaining people was in "clear
breach" of international human rights standards.
One of the report's authors, Maura McCallion, said those detained
were not being given access to a fair and speedy review of their situation.
"We are also worried about the role of the 'nearest relative' when he or she
applies to have a family member detained under mental health law," she said.
Brice Dickson: Hopeful recommendations will be taken on board
"We recommend that this role should be ended but that the individual with
mental health problems should be able to nominate a person they would like to be
consulted about their treatment."
Human Rights Commissioner Brice Dickson said people with mental health problems must be involved in decisions affecting their
"This report makes concrete recommendations for the amendment of mental
health law, policy and practice in Northern Ireland to ensure compliance with
human rights standards," he said.
"It is timely, in view of the government's establishment of a review of
mental health and learning disability.
"We are hopeful that many of our
recommendations will be taken on board," he added.
The introduction of an automatic review of detention decisions by an
Legislation to ensure that people with capacity to refuse treatment are no
longer treated against their will, except in very limited circumstances
The role of nearest relative as applicant to have a family member detained
should end but persons with mental health problems should be able to nominate a
person they want consulted
Detailed research carried out on the use of ECT and other potentially
Additional funding for mental health promotion, prevention and early