Objectives: In view of the apparent public discontent that has been expressed by individuals towards temporary certification and involuntary treatment, this study was set up to assess patients' reactions to their involuntary admission. The study compared the demographic characteristics of voluntary and involuntary patients and assessed their attitudes towards and knowledge of the certification process that presently exists in Ireland.
Method: A total of 68 patients, 38 involuntary patients consecutively admitted over a six month period and 30 voluntary patients selected over the same period, were interviewed with a standard questionnaire, on average six months after discharge.
Results: Involuntary patients were more likely to be single, live with their families and showed no demonstrable gender bias. Involuntary patients had limited knowledge of specific aspects of their individual certifications, particularly with regard to knowledge of their rights, admission status and knowledge of the identity of the applicant of the certificate. Of these, 10% were aware of their rights on admission and only 14% could recall that their rights had been explained to them on admission.
Conclusion: Although patients initially expressed strong feelings of anger on admission towards committal, these feelings were found to reduce over time. Recommendations for improving the present Mental Health Act were suggested by those interviewed and these included a need for an initial assessment period before certification is completed and a need for improved communication by medical staff regarding information on the admission status, the identity of the applicant and on the person's rights.