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Rights of those in Mental Health Care.

What are the rights of those detained against their will in a mental health treatment facility? A friend of mine says they are being abused.

The HSE have a patient’s charter and they must follow it – the charter can be found in the facility or hospital displayed in a public area so all can see. You or your friend can go through the complaint’s procedure but of course there is a claim of abuse involving assault then the Gardai can be called.

This listener or their friend can take matters into their own hands and issue a writ of Habeas Corpus – that is ask the High Court to launch an investigation under Article 40.4 of the Constitution into the validity of the friend’s detention, their clinical treatment and their physical well being while in the custody of the facility or institution. In particular the court will look at the position under the Mental Treatment Acts and the Mental Health Acts. It is important to note that the listener as friend of the detained person can legally begin the complaint process.

The High Court will require the authorities to actually bring the person to court so that the judge can conduct the investigation in public. Lawyers will be appointed to represent the detained person and fight their case for them. Win or lose, if the judge feels that the investigation is warranted then legal costs can be awarded to the patient.

Please see Article 40.4. of the Irish Constitution 1937:

http://www.taoiseach.gov.ie/attached_files/html%20files/Constitution%20of%20Ireland%20(Eng)Nov2004.htm

The issues raised in the answer to this NewsTalk listener's question are dealt with in a general way as can only be the case on live radio. Before relying on the advice given in this answer, whether you heard the broadcast or are for the first time reading the issues here please do not rely on the broad advice given. For a detailed professional opinion please consult a qualified legal advisor and for further details read our disclaimer on the Home Page.

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