[an error occurred while processing this directive]
BBC News
watch One-Minute World News
Last Updated: Tuesday, 16 December, 2003, 07:30 GMT
Spotlight on mental health
Laws for detaining people breaches human rights, report says
Laws for detaining people breaches human rights, report says
One in six people in Northern Ireland suffers mental health problems, according to a report.

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.

Human rights commissioner Brice Dickson
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 everyday lives.

"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.

Report recommendations

  • The introduction of an automatic review of detention decisions by an independent tribunal

  • 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 irreversible treatments

  • Additional funding for mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention services.




  • SEE ALSO:
    Q&A: Mental health laws
    25 Jun 02  |  Health


    RELATED INTERNET LINKS:
    The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites


    PRODUCTS AND SERVICES

    News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East | South Asia
    UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature | Technology | Health
    Have Your Say | In Pictures | Week at a Glance | Country Profiles | In Depth | Programmes
    Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific