We were established in 2002 and our remit includes the broad spectrum of mental health services in Ireland, for all ages and in all settings.
In Ireland, a wide range of mental health services are provided across both in-patient and community settings for various groups.
The MHC’s remit includes the broad spectrum of mental health services including general adult mental health services, as well as mental health services for children and adolescents, older people, people with intellectual disabilities, and forensic mental health services.
We are responsible for establishing and maintaining a register of approved centres, which are hospitals that provide in-patient care and treatment for people with a mental illness or a mental disorder. We are required to inspect and publish a report on each approved centre at least once a year.
The Mental Health Act 2001 provided for the establishment of the MHC, and we commenced work the following year (2002). Since then, we have published hundreds of inspection reports on approved centres across all regions of the country. Each of these reports has provided the local and wider community with an understanding and appreciation of the level of service in each centre.
These inspections are carried out by the Inspectorate, a function in the MHC headed by the Inspector of Mental Health Services. In addition to these individual inspection reports, the Inspector also carries out a national review of mental health services in the State and provides that report to the MHC for publication.
The 2001 Act also introduced a long-awaited system for the review of patients who are involuntarily admitted to approved centres. This system requires that every order detaining a patient must be independently reviewed by a group of three people referred to as a mental health tribunal. These reviews, which are arranged by the MHC, are subject to strict time limits and other criteria. The reviews are a core requirement in protecting and upholding patients’ human rights. There are approximately 1,900 mental health tribunals held every year.
Our work also involves developing codes of practice to guide and enable those working in mental health services to provide high quality care and treatment to service users. We are also responsible for making rules that regulate specific types of treatment for mental illness, including Electroconvulsive Therapy (ECT), seclusion and mechanical restraint, and we publish reports on these types of treatment on a regular basis.
In addition to the MHC’s responsibilities under the 2001 Act, the remit of the MHC was extended under the provisions of the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015 to include the establishment of the Decision Support Service (DSS). You can learn more about this aspect of our work by visiting the DSS website.