On 1 November 2006, Ireland's Mental Health Act 2001 was implemented, replacing the country's Mental Treatment Act 1945. We aimed to assess the impact of this change in legislation on the number and duration of involuntary admissions. We undertook a retrospective review of all admissions to a psychiatric admissions unit from January to October 2006 (pre-implementation) and January to October 2007 (post-implementation).
There were 46 involuntary admissions in the 10-month period under study in 2006, or 33.8 per 100 000 population. There were 53 in 2007, or 39.3 per 100 000 population. This increase was not significant (z = – 0.7, P = 0.46), however involuntary admissions formed a larger proportion of all admissions under the Mental Health Act 2001 than under the Mental Treatment Act 1945 (χ2 = 4.2, P =0.04). There was no difference in the duration of involuntary admissions but under the 2001 Act, involuntary patients had longer periods of voluntary status as part of their admissions than under the 1945 Act.
The introduction of more rigorous procedures for involuntary admission did not significantly change the rate or duration of involuntary admissions in our centre. The finding that involuntary admissions included longer periods of voluntary status suggests that more care is being taken to revoke involuntary admission orders under the Mental Health Act 2001 than under the Mental Treatment Act 1945.