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Sinn Féin support Mental Health Bill 2008

25 June, 2008

Speaking during the Seanad tonight on the Mental Health (Involuntary Procedures) (Amendment) Bill 2008 Sinn Fein Donegal Senator Pearse Doherty gave his support to the Mental Health Bill 2008.

Senator Doherty said:

"Despite the Mental Health Act I believe this is still the neglected quarter of our health services. The quarter of the population that will, at some time in their lives, experience mental health problems, are still badly being badly served.

"The promised reinvestment in mental health services is not happening. There needs to be a spending programme to remediate decades of under-funding, followed by ring-fencing of 12% of the health budget for mental health services, as recommended by the World Health Organisation.

"Resources are essential and so are rights. This Bill focuses on particular rights of people receiving treatment for mental illness.

"Sinn Féin believes that there should be a statutory requirement of full compliance with the international human rights standards set out in the 1991 United Nations Principles for the Protection of Persons with Mental Illness and for the Improvement of Mental Health Care.

"There should be legislation to introduce statutory rights to equality and self-determination for people with mental ill-health, to ensure empowerment of people with mental health needs, to guarantee a right to participation in decisions affecting them and to advocacy where necessary. There should also be legislation to introduce a statutory right to timely access to appropriate mental health services.

"I agree with the provision to delete Section 58 of the 2001 Mental Health Act which refers to psycho-surgery. This is a highly controversial procedure and it is widely regarded as medically unsound and a violation of the rights of patients. Yet it is provided for in Irish legislation.

"I also support the change to ban the use of electro-convulsive therapy on patients without their consent. It is not acceptable that this procedure, also highly controversial, medically questionable and impinging on patents' rights, should be imposed on patients without their consent but on the say-so of two psychiatrists.

"Care of people with mental illness has been transformed for the better but these procedures remain. It is time to deal with this issue and the Bill addresses that need.

"I urge the Government side to support this important amending Bill and to support the rights of people with mental illness." ENDS

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