‘Number of Garda-assisted psychiatric admissions a major concern’ – PNA

Breege Callaghan, of the Psychiatric Nurses’ Association, has expressed grave concern at the number of mental health patients who are being involuntarily admitted to the psychiatric unit at Roscommon Hospital.

  Ms. Callaghan, the union’s western regional representative, said that these admissions, which often involve the Gardaí, were due to a lack of community-based mental health teams being in place in the county.

  Under the Mental Health Act 2001, a person may be involuntarily admitted and detained in a psychiatric unit if they are suffering from a mental disorder.

  An application for such an admission may be made to a doctor by a relative, an authorised officer, a Garda or any other person. In many instances, a patient is then brought to hospital in a Garda car.

  This is happening far too frequently in Roscommon, Ms. Callaghan said.

  “It’s not fair on the person themselves,” she said.

  “It’s enough to have to carry the burden of a mental illness without having to end up down that avenue. Someone with a mental illness should not have to end up in our legal system, epecially involving the Gardaí.

  “It’s an illness. For the person themselves who is very unwell, having to end up in this scenario is really stressful.

  “In the absence of a fully functional community team, there are not enough staff on the ground to prevent these things happening.”

  A review of mental health services in Co. Roscommon is currently ongoing, and Ms. Callaghan said that she expected it would conclude that community services were “very understaffed”.

  “We are way behind in Roscommon compared to other counties – we could be 20 years behind. It angers me because the people of Roscommon deserve the same service as anybody else in this country,” she said.

  Ms. Callaghan said that she was under no doubt that improved community resources would lead to a reduction in involuntary admissions.

  “Absolutely,” she said. “The more people you have out in the community means you can care for a patient and their family in their home. You are supporting the whole network around a person to aid their recovery.

  “You don’t have to take somebody out of their home environment.”

  The Health Service Executive did not respond to requests for comment.