The Pros And Cons Of The Mental Treatment Act 1945

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The Mental Treatment Act 1945, as amended, forms the legislative basis for the mental health services in Ireland. The MTA 1945 was innovative and enlightened in its day. The former procedure whereby patients were committed to psychiatric hospitals on the order of two magistrates (subsequently Peace Commissioners) was repealed and the Mental Treatment Act 1945 set out the procedures for the admission of both voluntary patients and involuntary patients, other than mentally disordered persons charged with criminal offences and Wards of Court. The Mental Treatment Act 1945 specified two main classes of patients received in psychiatric care -- the voluntary and the non-voluntary patients. There are two categories of non-voluntary patients -- temporary …show more content…
The maximum period of detention of a temporary patient is six months, but if, towards the end of that six month period, the chief medical officer of the institution is of the opinion that the patient has not recovered, he may extend the original period of detention for a further six months up to a total of twenty-four months, or twelve months in the case of an addict. A person of unsound mind is broadly defined in the MTA 1945 as a person who requires detention for protection and care, and who is unlikely to recover within six months. Section 162 deals with a chargeable patient reception order and Section 163, as amended by Section 7 of the Mental Treatment Act 1961, provides for an application for recommendation for reception into a psychiatric hospital. Under Section 163(2) the recommendation must certify that the person is of unsound mind. The medical officer of the psychiatric hospital must examine the person to whom an application for admission as a person of unsound mind refers before he or she signs the reception order. A person of unsound mind may be detained for an indefinite …show more content…
I have already adverted to the right of the patient or someone acting on the patient's behalf to apply to the High Court for an Order of Habeas Corpus both under common law and under the provisions of Article 40.4.2 of the Constitution. This initiates an inquiry as to the lawfulness of the patient's detention and is undoubtedly a speedy and efficacious remedy. However, the situation of a mental patient who is illiterate, harmless and without kith or kin to initiate such an inquiry on his behalf by way of habeas corpus perhaps poses the problem in a stark form. Such a patient may not be aware of his or her rights to seek habeas corpus and may be incapable of the necessary written or verbal communication to trigger such an inquiry. There are other safeguards built into the Mental Treatment Act 1945 (as amended). A patient may apply to the Minister for Health for an Order under Section 222 of the MTA 1945 for the examination of a detained person by two medical practitioners, and the Minister on consideration of their report, if he or she thinks fit, may direct the discharge of the patient. Section 12 of the MTA 1945 provides for the appointment of an Inspector of Mental Hospitals who is a registered medical practitioner and who is normally a psychiatrist. The Inspector must visit all public mental hospitals at least once a year and private hospitals once every six months. He has a duty to give special attention to the state of

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