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25 2001



Preliminary and General

Short title, collective citation, construction and commencement.

1. —(1) This Act may be cited as the Mental Health Act, 2001.

(2) The Mental Treatment Act, 1945 , the Mental Treatment Act, 1961 , and this Act may be cited together as the Mental Health Acts, 1945 to 2001, and shall be construed together as one.

(3) This Act shall come into operation on such day or days as, by order or orders made by the Minister under this section, may be fixed therefor either generally or with reference to any particular purpose or provision, and different days may be so fixed for different purposes and different provisions.


2. —(1) In this Act, save where the context otherwise requires—

“Act of 1945” means the Mental Treatment Act, 1945 ;

“admission order” shall be construed in accordance with section 14 ;

“application” means an application for a recommendation that a person be involuntarily admitted to an approved centre and “applicant” shall be construed accordingly;

“approved centre” shall be construed in accordance with section 63 ;

“child” means a person under the age of 18 years other than a person who is or has been married;

“clinical director” means a person appointed under section 71 ;

“Commission” means the Mental Health Commission established under section 32 ;

“consultant psychiatrist” means a consultant psychiatrist who is employed by a health board or by an approved centre or a person whose name is entered on the division of psychiatry or the division of child and adolescent psychiatry of the Register of Medical Specialists maintained by the Medical Council in Ireland;

“establishment day” means the day appointed by the Minister under section 31 ;

“examination”, in relation to a recommendation, an admission order or a renewal order, means a personal examination carried out by a registered medical practitioner or a consultant psychiatrist of the process and content of thought, the mood and the behaviour of the person concerned;

“functional area”, in relation to a health board, means the functional area of the board as defined in the Health Boards Regulations, 1970 (S.I. No. 170 of 1970) and in relation to the Eastern Regional Health Authority, its functional area as defined in section 7 of the Health (Eastern Regional Health Authority) Act, 1999 ;

“functions” includes powers and duties and references to the performance of functions include, with respect to powers and duties, references to the exercise of the powers and the carrying out of the duties;

“give” includes send, whether by post or electronic or other means, and cognate words shall be construed accordingly;

“health board” means a health board established under the Health Act, 1970 , and the Eastern Regional Health Authority;

“Inspector” shall be construed in accordance with section 50 ;

“legal representative” means a barrister or a solicitor;

“mental health services” means services which provide care and treatment to persons suffering from a mental illness or a mental disorder under the clinical direction of a consultant psychiatrist;

“mental illness” has the meaning assigned to it by section 3 ;

“Minister” means the Minister for Health and Children;

“parents” includes a surviving parent and, in the case of a child who has been adopted under the Adoption Acts, 1952 to 1998, or, where the child has been adopted outside the State, whose adoption is recognised by virtue of the law for the time being in force in the State, means the adopter or adopters or the surviving adopter;

“patient” shall be construed in accordance with section 14 ;

“prescribed” means prescribed by regulations made by the Minister;

“recommendation” shall be construed in accordance with section 10 ;

“registered nurse” means a person whose name is entered in the register of nurses maintained by An Board Altranais under section 27 of the Nurses Act, 1985 ;

“registered medical practitioner” means a person whose name is entered in the General Register of Medical Practitioners;

“registered proprietor” has the meaning assigned to it by section 62 ;

“relative”, in relation to a person, means a parent, grandparent, brother, sister, uncle, aunt, niece, nephew or child of the person or of the spouse of the person whether of the whole blood, of the half blood or by affinity;

“renewal order” shall be construed in accordance with section 15 ;

“spouse” means a husband or wife or a man or a woman who is cohabiting with a person of the opposite sex for a continuous period of not less than 3 years but is not married to that person;

“treatment”, in relation to a patient, includes the administration of physical, psychological and other remedies relating to the care and rehabilitation of a patient under medical supervision, intended for the purposes of ameliorating a mental disorder;

“tribunal” shall be construed in accordance with section 48 ;

“voluntary patient” means a person receiving care and treatment in an approved centre who is not the subject of an admission order or a renewal order.

(2) In this Act, except where the context otherwise requires—

(a) a reference to any enactment shall be construed as a reference to that enactment as amended or extended by or under any subsequent enactment including this Act,

(b) a reference to a section is a reference to a section of this Act unless it is indicated that reference to some other enactment is intended,

(c) a reference to a subsection, paragraph or subparagraph is a reference to the subsection, paragraph or subparagraph of the provision in which the reference occurs unless it is indicated that reference to some other provision is intended.

“Mental disorder”.

3. —(1) In this Act “mental disorder” means mental illness, severe dementia or significant intellectual disability where—

(a) because of the illness, disability or dementia, there is a serious likelihood of the person concerned causing immediate and serious harm to himself or herself or to other persons, or

(b) (i) because of the severity of the illness, disability or dementia, the judgment of the person concerned is so impaired that failure to admit the person to an approved centre would be likely to lead to a serious deterioration in his or her condition or would prevent the administration of appropriate treatment that could be given only by such admission, and

(ii) the reception, detention and treatment of the person concerned in an approved centre would be likely to benefit or alleviate the condition of that person to a material extent.

(2) In subsection (1)

“mental illness” means a state of mind of a person which affects the person's thinking, perceiving, emotion or judgment and which seriously impairs the mental function of the person to the extent that he or she requires care or medical treatment in his or her own interest or in the interest of other persons;

“severe dementia” means a deterioration of the brain of a person which significantly impairs the intellectual function of the person thereby affecting thought, comprehension and memory and which includes severe psychiatric or behavioural symptoms such as physical aggression;

“significant intellectual disability” means a state of arrested or incomplete development of mind of a person which includes significant impairment of intelligence and social functioning and abnormally aggressive or seriously irresponsible conduct on the part of the person.

Best interests, etc., of person.

4. —(1) In making a decision under this Act concerning the care or treatment of a person (including a decision to make an admission order in relation to a person), the best interests of the person shall be the principal consideration with due regard being given to the interests of other persons who may be at risk of serious harm if the decision is not made.

(2) Where it is proposed to make a recommendation or an admission order in respect of a person, or to administer treatment to a person, under this Act, the person shall, so far as is reasonably practicable, be notified of the proposal and be entitled to make representations in relation to it and before deciding the matter due consideration shall be given to any representations duly made under this subsection.

(3) In making a decision under this Act concerning the care or treatment of a person (including a decision to make an admission order in relation to a person) due regard shall be given to the need to respect the right of the person to dignity, bodily integrity, privacy and autonomy.


5. —(1) The Minister may—

(a) by regulations provide, subject to the provisions of this Act, for any matter referred to in this Act as prescribed or to be prescribed,

(b) in addition to any other power conferred on him or her to make regulations, make regulations generally for the purposes of, and for the purpose of giving full effect to, this Act,

(c) if any difficulty arises during the period of 12 months from the commencement of this Act in bringing this Act into operation, by regulations do anything which appears to be necessary or expedient for bringing this Act into operation and regulations under this paragraph may, in so far only as may appear necessary for carrying the regulations into effect, modify a provision of this Act if the modification is in conformity with the purposes, principles and spirit of this Act.

(2) Regulations under this Act may contain such incidental, supplementary and consequential provisions as appear to the Minister to be necessary or expedient for the purposes of the regulations.

(3) Every regulation under this Act shall be laid before each House of the Oireachtas as soon as may be after it is made and, if a resolution annulling the regulation is passed by either such House within the next 21 days on which that House has sat after the regulation is laid before it, the regulation shall be annulled accordingly but without prejudice to the validity of anything previously done thereunder.


6. —(1) Subject to subsection (2), the enactments specified in column (3) of the Schedule at any reference number are hereby repealed to the extent mentioned in column (4) of that Schedule at that reference number.

(2) The repeal effected by subsection (1) of section 94 of the Act of 1945 shall not have effect in so far as the said section 94 applies to a person who, upon the commencement of the repeal, is a resident medical superintendent.


7. —The expenses incurred by the Minister in the administration of this Act, shall to such extent as may be sanctioned by the Minister for Finance, be paid out of moneys provided by the Oireachtas.