Report urges mental health reforms

People using mental health services feel they have little control over their own lives.

They also need better support and more access to public services.

That is according to findings in a new report which looks at the need for independent advocacy supports for people with mental health difficulties who use public services.

The study by the Mental Health Reform (MHR) surveyed 76 people who use mental health services in a major urban area.

More than one third of participants felt they had little control to lead their own lives as they wanted. One third of participants were not at all happy with their involvement in the community.

In terms of satisfaction with the level of support from their mental health team, 20% of participants were very satisfied and 38% mostly satisfied. A further 28% were a little satisfied and 9% were not satisfied.

In relation to users’ involvement in planning their own mental health treatment, 34% of participants said they were very involved, 34% were involved a little, over one fifth (21%) said, they were not involved at all, and only 4% were involved as “full partners”.

When it came to being confident about raising matters about their treatment or advocating for themselves, participants, on average, said their confidence to be assertive in this manner was low.

When asked about their confidence in raising issues within a variety of services, participants, on average, said they were only “a little confident”.

Participants’ confidence in raising an issue with their psychiatrist was relatively low, with 9% of participants being “fully confident” to do so.

Shari McDaid, director of MHR, said the report shows that some people lack the confidence to voice concerns around their mental health treatment.

“We hear too often that people do not have a voice in decisions about their own mental health treatment.

“This report shows that some people with mental health difficulties lack the confidence to raise concerns about public services that they receive, including mental health services.

“When these situations arise, people should have access to an independent, one-to-one advocate, so that they can have their views heard in decisions about their treatment and have their rights and entitlements fully respected.”

Ombudsman Peter Tyndall, who launched the report, said he was not surprised by the findings.

“The high percentage of people who don’t know how to complain revealed by the survey is sadly not a surprise to me, but it is essential that we learn from people’s experience of their services, and especially any mistakes if we are to improve services for the future,” he said.

Yesterday’s report coincided with the Health Research Board releasing the 2016 data from Irish psychiatric units and hospitals.

The data showed that 20-24 was the age group with the highest admissions rate.

The second-highest admissions rate was for the 65-74-year-old age bracket.

In terms of diagnosis, depression, schizophrenia, mania, and alcoholic disorders accounted for the main categories of admissions.

There were 151 deaths in Irish psychiatric hospitals and units in 2016, 54% of whom were male, the date found.

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