Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has expressed his disappointment at the Government’s failure to prioritise legislation to reform the Mental Health Act 2001 in the Spring Session.
He was speaking following the publishing of the Government Legislation Programme for the Spring Session 2024. The reform of the Mental Health Act 2001 was prioritised for drafting during this session; however it was not prioritised for publication.
Teachta Ward said:
“The Government have published their legislative programme for the Spring session. The reform of the Mental Health Act 2001 has not been prioritised for publication but only for drafting. This may mean that the Bill will not be introduced until the middle of 2024, if at all.
“It seems that mental health is not a priority for this Government.
“This is disappointing for all of the mental health organisations that have been calling for this to be published as a matter of urgency, 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 a robust, person-centric mental health legislation that will protect the rights of people with mental health difficulties in the decades ahead.
“The Bill was prioritised for drafting in the Autumn session and the Government have once again put it on the long finger. The government are not treating this with the urgency that it deserves.
“With the possibility that a general election could be called at any point, the delay in the publication of the Bill may mean that it may not be completed in the lifetime of this Government.
“A delay in reforming the Mental Health Act 2001 has real consequences with a continued lack of regulation of CAMHS under the Act, for example. I have introduced legislation to regulate CAMHS and give the Mental Health Commission the statutory powers to oversee the implementation of their recommendations, that made in following their review into CAMHS.
“We have 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 on in October of 2022. The fact that we are over a year on and it is still not on the priority publication list shows to me that it is not a priority for Government.
“The longer this is delayed, the longer that service users and frontline mental health organisations have to wait.”