Man diagnosed as schizophrenic sues HSE for alleged refusal of mental health services

The man says that schizophrenia is something that requires lifelong treatment that "will never be cured by simply taking medicine"
Man diagnosed as schizophrenic sues HSE for alleged refusal of mental health services

It is claimed that the HSE will not accept any referrals of him, claiming that he is a "forensic risk". File picture

A man with a history of mental health problems has brought a High Court challenge over the alleged refusal of the HSE to allow him to access community-based services.

The action has been brought by a man who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia after suffering from hallucinations, hearing voices in his head, and disordered thinking. He has spent a large part of his life in various forms of detention after he became involved in criminality at a relatively young age.

The man who is in his 30s has also suffered from homeless and addiction issues, and has convictions for offences including assault, causing serious harm and criminal damage. The High Court heard that during his teens his mental health deteriorated, he was unable to cope and became a danger to himself and others.

While in prison he was prescribed anti-psychotic medication and regular counselling and support from a psychologist which greatly improved his mental health.

However, following his release from prison, he has been unable to access the same mental health supports that he requires including 'Cognitive Behavioural Therapy' on an ongoing basis. As a result of the refusal, he has struggled, and his mental health has deteriorated.

Despite referrals from a psychiatrist and other medical experts, it is claimed that the HSE will not accept any referrals of him claiming that he is a "forensic risk". The man says that schizophrenia is something that requires lifelong treatment that "will never be cured by simply taking medicine".

Despite repeated enquiries, he has never been offered an appointment with the relevant Mental Health Service provider in his locality, nor any acknowledgement that he has been accepted onto their waiting list.

Arising out of the HSE's most recent refusal to allow him access to a community-based service, the man and his partner, who are represented by Michael O'Higgins SC, have brought High Court judicial review proceedings. None of the parties involved can be named for legal reasons.

The man's claims

In their action, the couple seeks an order quashing what they claim is the HSE's continued refusal to allow the man to access the community-based mental health services, or in the alternative an order requiring the respondent to consider his application.

He also seeks several declarations from the court including that the HSE erred in law, has no basis for finding the man was not entitled to community-based healthcare and that the decision amounts to a breach of his constitutional rights and rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

He further seeks a declaration that given the exceptional circumstances of the man's case he enjoys a constitutional right to the type of community-based care he seeks. This is because he has suffered from mental health issues for most of his life.

His childhood, Mr O'Higgins said was "chaotic." He spent most of his life in foster care as his parents had addiction and mental health issues of their own. Counsel said the man's treating doctors say he requires psychiatric services and treatment.

If he does not get the community services he requires, there is a risk that he will revert to being a danger to himself and others, counsel said. No adequate reasons have been given by the HSE as to why the man's application for services he is entitled to receive has been refused.

The application for permission to bring the challenge came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday. The judge, on an ex-parte basis, granted the man permission to bring his challenge. The judge, noting the urgency of the action, will hear the case made in June.

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