Bill to provide for more streamlined access to Mental Health Services – O’Loughlin

On World Mental Health Day, 10th October 2019, I introduced legislation to provide for more streamlined access to mental health services.

The Mental Health Amendment Bill 2019, or Maxine’s Law, provides for the issuing of guidelines for a timely referral by a healthcare professional to eliminate any prolonged period spent by a person waiting in an Emergency Department.

Deputy O’Loughlin explained, “This legislation comes about as a result of the tragic death of Maxine Maguire in 2017. An inquest into her death found gaps in the mental health services which need to be addressed.

In the first instance no person experiencing a mental health emergency should have to wait in an emergency department. It’s a wholly unsuitable setting and it only compounds the distress for the person and for their loved ones.

Each and every person has a right to access healthcare and when it comes to mental health care, early intervention is vital. No one attending an emergency department in a mental health crisis should be told to go home and wait for an appointment, which depending on where they are in the country, could be in two weeks’ time or in 18 months. Access to information on the patient is vital also and it shouldn’t take a week or two to pull a file out of the system.

Time is of the essence in a mental health emergency, they don’t conform to the nine to five, Monday through Friday working week. We’re repeatedly told that improvements will be made and that this is a priority for Government, but delivery hasn’t followed and that is why this legislation is necessary.