Involuntary admissions - Doctors must show proof

No self-respecting society should compel vulnerable citizens to vegetate behind locked doors, but this is effectively what is happening to some people suffering mental illness.

They are being sedated with drugs and kept in psychiatric units with no therapeutic treatment and thus little real hope of overcoming their illnesses.

Last year there were 2,024 involuntary admissions to psychiatric units. Tribunals have been established for lawyers to represent the interests of involuntary patients, but the decisions of these tribunals are inevitably based on the advice of doctors.

Some patients with high needs are not getting the necessary treatment to help them overcome their illness. Instead, they are pumped with medication that may not be helping them. Members of the tribunals report that they see patients deteriorating under such treatment, but are not medically competent to make an assessment.

Dr Siobhan Barry of the Irish Psychiatric Association advocates that doctors should have to prove to the tribunals that the patients would benefit from further detention. That should be a definite requirement.

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