Mental Health Act 2001


The Mental Health Act 2001 sets out the law on how and why you can be admitted to a psychiatric hospital and your rights as a patient.

Best interests of the patient

If you are admitted to, or are receiving treatment in, approved centres (that is, psychiatric hospitals or inpatient services), your best interests should be considered before any decision about your care and treatment is made.

You should be included in discussions with your care team about where your best interests lie to help you with your recovery. You have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and the right to be listened to by all those working on your care team. You are entitled to take part in decisions that affect your health and your care team should consider your views carefully. You have the right to be fully informed about your legal rights, admission and treatment.

Mental Health Commission

The Mental Health Commission has been in existence since 2002. Its main functions are:

  • To promote, encourage and foster high standards and good practices in the delivery of mental health services and
  • To protect the interests of people who have been involuntarily admitted to an approved centre

It is responsible for implementing the provisions of the Act in relation to involuntary admission, for setting up mental health tribunals and ensuring that the rights of patients are respected. It has drawn up the forms necessary under the Mental Health Act 2001 and issued guidelines for people involved in the mental health system.

The Mental Health Commission has published Your Guide to the Mental Health Act 2001 to tell you about your rights under the mental health law. The guide is available in English, Irish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Polish and Russian.

Page edited: 30 October 2019