Over 4,000 instances of physical restraint in mental health services in 2020

Over 4,000 instances of physical restraint in mental health services in 2020

Fiona Coyle said the use of restraint and seclusion can be quite traumatic for both staff and service users. Picture: Conor McCabe Photography

There have been calls to ban the use of restraint and seclusion on mental health patients but some officials say it is still needed in some cases.

Instances of physical restraint in mental health services dropped from more than 5,000 in 2019 to just over 4,000 last year.

However, the use of seclusion went up from 1,700 to over 1,800 episodes.

With the government now looking at updating legislation in the area, Mental Health Reform CEO Fiona Coyle says it is a good time to get rid of both practices altogether.

"We have seen some interesting and quite worrying trends over recent years. In 2020, there was the increase in seclusion," she said.

"We are trying to move towards zero seclusion, zero restraint by 2030."

Ms Coyle said the use of restraint and seclusion can be quite traumatic for both staff and service users.

HSE head of mental health engagement Michael Ryan says there has been a push to cut their use.

Mr Ryan said it needs to be reduced as much as possible but there are instances where the practices are necessary.

"I've spoken to people who have used our services who were happy that on occasion it was used," he said.

Advocates have previously said the effort to cut back on restrictive methods is positive, but bigger changes need to happen faster.

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