Mental health abuse ‘ignored by doctors’

MENTAL health campaigner John McCarthy has criticised a statement from Ireland’s psychiatrists defending the quality of the country’s mental health services and its role in advocating for mental health patients.

Four days after Behind the Walls, a documentary on the state of mental health services, was broadcast on RTÉ, the College of Psychiatry of Ireland (CPI) issued a statement criticising the programme-makers for failing to examine “multiple advances in the treatment of mental illness” by GPs and at secondary level care by specialists.

The CPI said mental health treatment is now far more “person-focused”.

Yesterday, John McCarthy of Mad Pride, the mental health advocacy group, accused the CPI of “walking away from and ignoring those being currently abused in the mental health services”.

“They are trying to say that it is all in the past, but try and explain the over-medication and incarceration of John Hunt, who featured in the documentary,” said Mr McCarthy. “That is current. They also speak about effective treatment but the fastest revolving door in the health services is in mental health.

“I was just talking to a woman today who has been admitted to hospital 80 times,” he added.

The CPI said: “The vast majority of people in this country, who experience an onset of mental illness will be treated effectively and will have no recurrence.”

The psychiatrists accused wider society of failing to take an interest in the mentally ill.

“Psychiatrists are at the forefront in advocating for improved services for patients,” the CPI statement said. “In the late 1970s one group of psychiatrists wrote a newspaper article highlighting the appalling conditions in St. Brendan’s Hospital, Grangegorman.

“The College of Psychiatry would welcome a wider debate on mental illness which would include issues such as: service provision; treatments; funding; stigma and the societal attitudes, which are so important in dealing with an illness which impacts, at one time or another, on most families,” they said.

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