Wednesday, 1 February 2017
Department of Health
Mental Health Act Review
141. To ask the Minister for Health if his Department has an official position on whether serious mental conditions are physical malfunctions in the brain or otherwise; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [4502/17]
The position of my Department, and the HSE, in relation to the question raised by the Deputy is broadly guided by the Mental Health Act, 2001, and also by reference to mental health as outlined in "A Vision for Change". There are many different definitions and descriptions surrounding concepts of mental health, which can reflect also different cultures or degrees of importance on different aspects surrounding mental health. It would be the case, too, that the question relating to any physical aspects of mental health would be open to interpretation, particularly in light of evolving clinical judgement or knowledge both nationally or internationally.
The terms 'mental disorder' and 'mental illness' are currently defined in section 3 of the Mental Health Act 2001. The Report of the Expert Group which reviewed the Mental Health Act 2001 was published in 2015 and the Group recommended that the term 'mental disorder' should be removed from the Act and replaced by a definition of the term 'mental illness'. The definition of mental illness proposed by the Group is: 'mental illness means a complex and changeable condition where the state of mind of a person affects the person's thinking, perceiving, emotion or judgment and seriously impairs the mental function of the person to the extent that he or she requires treatment. Work is underway in the Department to prepare the General Scheme of a Bill which will reflect the recommendations of the Expert Group in revised mental health legislation.
It is generally accepted in this country that certain serious mental health conditions would be regarded as involving, or potentially involving, the type of issue raised by the Deputy. This, for example, is reflected in the HSE National Clinical and Integrated Care Programmes being developed under the annual HSE Mental Health Operational Plans, and which are published on the HSE website. These cover areas such as Self-Harm, Eating Disorders, Early Intervention for Psychosis, Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD), and Co-Morbid Dual Diagnosis for Mental Health and Substance Abuse, and may be relevant to varying degrees in the context overall mental policy and professional care delivery.
If the Deputy has further queries he wishes me to consider on this matter, I will be happy to do so if he supplies me with detailed information.