Psychiatric patient to be transferred to CMH

A 30-YEAR-OLD man who has been involuntarily detained in a psychiatric unit in Cork for almost six years is set to be transferred to the Central Mental Hospital (CMH).

John Hunt, whose case featured in last week’s Irish Examiner special investigation on mental health, has lived in the Psychiatric Intensive Care Unit in Carraig Mór since he was 24. He has been diagnosed as a paranoid schizophrenic, and it is understood his move follows a recent incident in which a staff member was injured.

Mr Hunt’s former partner, Gráinne Humphrys, said John and his family are anxious about the move, but hope be better services will be available there.

“John has mixed feelings about the move,” she said. “He is afraid about it, and very worried to leave Carraig Mór, as it has been home for almost six years. It is much further away from his family and visiting will be very difficult. But at the same time, he is a little bit excited about something new.”

Ms Humphrys said John understandably fears he will never be released.

“On the positive side, Dundrum have more rehabilitative services than Carraig Mór and the change may help John to move forward. I do not want to think about the fact that he could get stuck in there for years too. It’s too awful a thought.”

The Central Mental Hospital is the national centre for forensic psychiatry in Ireland. It provides treatment under conditions of special security for people who present with dangerous, violent or criminal propensities and patients who have exceeded the capacity of their local service.

John McCarthy, campaigner and founder of Mad Pride Ireland, said the move is simply another indication of the failure of the system and the way it cannot cope with John.

“To me, forensic psychiatry is a contradiction. How can it work when its only method of treatment is against the person’s will?

“Is it for people who the system can’t cope with, so will just lock them away?

“As far as I see is this is a form of jail — locking people in with no judge, jury or release date.

“The biggest worry for John is: will he ever get out? We just don’t know and that decision is completely at the behest of the CMH. This move could be very good for him or could be a disaster. There is just no way of knowing.

“Mad Pride Ireland will continue to do the best we can to protect John and Gráinne’s rights, but the secrecy that surrounds psychiatric units may hinder us supporting him. We will be told this is in ‘the patient’s best interest’ of course.”

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