Mental Health Act 2001


The Mental Health Act 2001 changed the rules about admission to psychiatric hospitals and the rights of psychiatric patients. Since the Act was implemented on 1 November 2006, new procedures have been put in place for the monitoring and regulation of standards of care in psychiatric hospitals.

Best interests of the patient

When people are admitted or are receiving treatment in approved centres (that is, psychiatric hospitals or inpatient services), their best interests should be considered before any decision about their care and treatment is made. They should be included in discussions with their care team about where their best interests lie to help them with their recovery. Patients have the right to be treated with dignity and respect and the right to be listened to by all those working on their care team. They are entitled to take part in decisions that affect their health and their care team should consider their views carefully. They have the right to be fully informed about their legal rights, their 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 for the various processes and issued guidelines for people involved in the mental health system.

The Mental Health Commission has published a guide to the Mental Health Act 2001 which is available in English, Irish, Arabic, Chinese, French, Polish and Russian.

Page edited: 21 September 2015