Skip to main content Accessibility help

Involuntary admissions to a district mental health service – implications for a new mental treatment act

  • Teresa G Carey and John M Owens (a1)


Objective: The aim of this study was to examine the working of the 1945 Irish Mental Treatment Act in relation to compulsory admission and detention and to establish issues that will need to be addressed in imminent new legislation. Method: A 3 year retrospective study was carried out on all compulsory admissions to the Cavan/Monaghan Psychiatric Service using case note material. The circumstances surrounding application for compulsory admission in one year of the study period were further investigated by delivery of a schedule to Relative-Applicants. Results: The study revealed rates of compulsory admission equivalent to other Irish regions but much higher than neighbouring jurisdictions. There was no evidence of deliberate abuse of the act. Indications emerged of excessive and inappropriate recourse to certification by some relatives and General Practitioners. Excessive length of detained stay and lack of specific procedures for informing patients of their rights were evident. Conclusions: A new Mental Treatment Act will need to place much greater emphasis on patients' civil rights while facilitating access to treatment.



Hide All
1. Mental treatment act 1945. Dublin, Government Publications Office, 1945.
2. Council of Europe recommendation No. R (83) 2. Adopted by the Committee of Ministers February 22, 1983.
3. United Nation principles for the protection of persons with mental illness and the improvement of mental health care. Adopted by the General Assembly December 17, 1991.
4.SP, Segal. Civil commitment standards and patient mix in England/Wales, Italy and the United States. Am J Psychiatry 1989; 146: 187–93.
5.Green Paper on Mental Health. Dublin, Government Publications Office, 1993.
6.Gibbons, P, Walshe, DG, Dillon, J. Committal procedures in Ireland. Irish Medical Journal 1992; 5: 91–3.
7.O'Connor, A, Walsh, D. Activities of Irish psychiatric hospitals and units. Dublin: Health Research Board, 1989.
8.Annual Report of the South Eastern Health Board. Kilkenny, South Eastern Health Board, 1991.
9.Mental Health Record Scheme, Regional Information Branch, DHSS, Castle Buildings, Stormont, Belfast BT4 34D, Northern Ireland.
10.Engberg, M. Involuntary commitment in Greenland, The Faroe Islands and Denmark. Acta Psychiatr Scand 1991; 84: 353–6.
11.Sheppard, M. General practitioners' referrals for compulsory admission under the Mental Health Act, 1: comparison with other GP mental health referrals. 11: the process of assessment. Psychiatric Bulletin of the Royal College of Psychiatrists 1992; 16: 138–41.



Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed