Mental health issues have been on the rise in Ireland. John Saunders, the chairman of the Mental Health Commission, proposed adoption of a very low tolerance for non-compliance from service providers. He stated that the central guiding principle that governs all aspects of mental health services must be the adherence to human rights. The chairman later launched the organization’s strategy that is titled; ‘Protecting People’s Rights for 2019-2022.’ He noted that the commission would take action against those who would not work together to protect the civilians’ rights by breaking the law. The commission prefers a shared approach, which delivers in the present and maintains sustainability for future generations. Health does not only mean the absence of diseases because it refers to a state of mental, physical, and social wellbeing (Keane 1991, p.21). The Health Department in Ireland has a legal obligation to promote a cohesive system of social health care that is intended to secure improvements in the prevention, diagnosis, treatment of illnesses, and social wellbeing as well as physical and mental health.
Research reveals that mental health disorders often develop at teenage years. In Ireland, more young people are suffering from mental disorders compared to their peers in the rest of the United Kingdom and America. Therefore, the government ought to enact laws to improve the mental health of Ireland. The most recent Irish Mental Health Act was done in 2001. One of the protocols that were not included in the legislation is the ability of the school management to refer students with a mental health problem to a specialist. Therefore, the Mental Health Act should be appended to allow learning institutions to send students to psychologists if need be. The World Health Organization emphasized that the Primary Care Mental Health service could have a crucial part in increased access to treatment for psychological difficulties. The mental health services and specialists can be best utilized by individuals when they seek access to the assistance they need at the lowest level of support appropriate for them (Keane 1991, p.27). The WHO highlighted some of the benefits of integrating mental health care into primary care and the Irish government must change its medical legislation to accommodate the change.
One of the benefits of incorporating such changes in the law is less stigmatization of the staff and the patients given that behavioral and mental disorders will be categorized and managed alongside the physical problems. The second benefit is improved screening and treatment, which increases the detection rate of patients presenting symptoms related to behavioral and mental health. The third benefit is a better treatment of the mental aspect that is associated with physical problems. According to the World Health Report, 2001 there exist barriers to implementing an integrated mental healthcare system (Higgins & McDaid 2014, p.17). Among the obstacles are poor mental policies, excluding primary care, lack of advocacy, inadequately trained specialists, accessibility of drugs, availability of medication, and lack of financial and human support.
In Ireland, the government has worked to establish adequate mental health care systems, especially at the primary level. The psychological health preliminary care systems tend to view patients holistically and not in terms of specific diseases or conditions. The service providers also gather enough knowledge of the patients’ domestic and social context (Higgins & McDaid 2014, p.23). The general practice in Ireland involves gathering intelligence of the local community resources such as the family, and support groups which form an essential recovery network.
In 2002, there was a Bramford Review of law, policies, and provisions on Mental Health and learning disabilities. The chair of the steering committee, Professor Bramford, concluded the discussions with the publication of eleven reports in 2007. The recommendations in the publications by Bramford were in line with the WHO’s highlighted benefits (Higgins & McDaid 2014, p.31). The WHO’s list of benefits includes reform of the mental health legislation, continued emphasis on the positive mental health, a shift from hospital to community-based services, and an adequately trained workforce.
Since 2005 after Bamford’s reports, a significant reform and modernization of the mental health services were witnessed across Ireland. A systematic approach through the mental health work framework was established with the primary emphasis on recovery focus and multidisciplinary functional teams. The system also includes an acute inpatient unit as well as a crisis response home treatment. The committee acknowledged some of the limitations that were faced such as financial constraints, and slow implementation of the Mental Capacity Act 2016. The Mental Capacity Act 2016 was designed to empower the people, to make the decision for them where possible, and protect the people who lack the capacity. Through the legislation, Ireland has explicitly defined mental capacity and fused the mental health regulations and mental capacity laws under one Act (Kelly 2017, p.9). Moreover, the law is clear regarding the scenarios whereby the high court is supposed to make decisions for someone.
The Ireland executive formed the ‘Program for Government 2016-2021’, an initiative to improve mental health. The rationale for this initiative was that one of the critical factors in determining physical fitness is psychological health. The plan stipulates that mental health influences social circumstances such as family, employment, community participation, and family relationship. Curbing the menace will foster stable families, communities and the nation as a whole. The country has also drafted the ‘Making Life Better 2002-2012’ framework, which is a ten-year initiative. The key long-term goal of the program is to improve the mental wellbeing, as well as reduce suicide and self-harm. The initiative stipulates some of the action plans including the development of a new strategy to endorse progressive mental health to decrease suicides and self-harm. Another action plan was to intensify resilience and advance mental welfare among young people (Kelly 2017, p.16). The project was also created to recognize and support mentally ill patients and people who suffer from other susceptibilities that have been snubbed.
In 2011, Ireland initiated the ‘Transforming Your Care’ plan that suggested a new cohesive model of health and social care. It concentrated on population-based forecasting of services, a shift of resources from the hospital to the community and care to be given at home. The Transforming Your Care initiative acknowledged the Bramford recommendations and set the agenda of transforming the recommended services (Kelly 2017, p.28). The main barrier to accessing mental health service is the stigma and allied discrimination against persons suffering from mental and social disorders. The people’s perception makes it difficult for the affected individuals to shy of seeking medical attention and only do so when the illness has worsened.
For improved mental health to be attained, there are six actions that the Ireland government must execute. The first one is the production of detailed and time lined Government action plan to carry on the reforms of mental health in line with the vision for change and Healthy Ireland Framework. The administration ensures that it provides adequate funding and a sound governance structure that includes oversight of the instituted policies (Health Service Executive 2007, p.13). The ‘Vision For Change 2006-2016’ is a mental health policy that purposes to modernize Ireland’s healthcare services and to improve the social inclusion of people who experience mental health illness.
The second action plan is to increase access to initial intervention and to equip the primary care service centers. The patients from all social divides ought to access the services at an affordable price. The government must ensure that the primary schools’ curriculum has lessons on mental health to curb the menace at an early stage. The third action plan is to provide a framework that supports young people’s mental health. The régime should train and increase psychology specialists in schools and hospitals for early intervention. The fourth action plan is to update Ireland’s Mental Health Act in alignment with the ‘International Human Rights Standards’ and the ‘UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities’ (Health Service Executive 2007, p.13). The integration of the legislation can be achieved through empowering the people with mental difficulties to make decisions about their treatment, a review of the Criminal Law Act 2006, as well as drafting provisions in law for information and support for families of the people with mental health difficulty. The fifth action plan is to ensure access to homes for people with mental health difficulties by providing an adequate supply of social housing. The sixth action plan is to minimize the people with mental health difficulties outside the labor force (Health Service Executive 2007, p.24). The strategy can be achieved through implementing the individual settlement and sustenance model of supported employment as the first selection for people with mental health difficulty who wants to work.
The rate of people with mental health difficulties in Ireland is high, and the number is growing by the day. The level of stigma and ill-equipped healthcare system has caused many people to shun away from seeking help. The government has a responsibility to improve the mental health care service in Ireland through education and awareness campaigns, making a review of the laws concerning mental health and recognizing the importance of social and professional support. Mental health is an emerging global issue and must be dealt with by all governments through the provision of proper legislative framework and allocation of adequate funding.
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Keane, C 1991, Mental health in Ireland, Dublin: Gill and Macmillan.
Kelly, B 2017, Mental health in Ireland: the complete guide for patients, families, health care
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Health Service Executive 2007, Mental health in Ireland: awareness and attitudes.