September 27, 2023
Further Government delays in reforming the Mental Health Act – Mark Ward TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has expressed disappointment with the Government for not prioritising legislation to reform the Mental Health Act 2001 in the Autumn Session.

Teachta Ward was speaking following the publication of the Government’s Legislative Programme for the Autumn Session 2023, in which the reform of the Mental Health Act was prioritised for drafting, however it was not prioritised for publication.

Teachta Ward said:

“The fact that the reform of the Mental Health Act has not been prioritised for publication but only for drafting could mean that the Bill may not be introduced until early 2024.

“This is disappointing for all of the Mental Health organisations that have been calling for this to be published this year, but it is also disappointing for the thousands of people who use our mental health services.

“This Bill is an opportunity to put in place person-centric and robust Mental Health legislation that will protect the rights of people with mental health difficulties in the decades ahead.

“With the possibility a General Election being called at any point, the delay in the publication of this Bill may mean that it might not be completed in the lifetime of this Government.

“A delay in reforming the Mental Health Act has real consequences, with a continued lack of regulation of CAMHS under the Act.

“I have introduced legislation which would regulate CAMHS and give the Mental Health Commission the statutory powers to oversee the implementation of their recommendations, which were made following their review into CAMHS.

“We’ve had review after review into CAMHS, but no urgency from Government to prioritise this legislation. This delay is letting our young people down once again.

“Pre-legislative scrutiny for the update of Mental Health Act 2001 was carried out in October last year. The fact we are a year on and it still has no place on the publication list shows us that this isn’t a priority for Government.

“I wrote to the Minister for Mental Health last month calling for this Bill to be included on the priority publication list. Her response stated that they would publish as soon as possible.

“The longer this is delayed, the longer service users and frontline Mental Health organisations have to wait.”

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