Monday 23 October 2017

Treating mental health equally

Madam -- In her otherwise excellent article -- 'Suicide isn't somebody else's problem, it is ours' -- Carol Hunt referred to my interview on Morning Ireland following two tragic deaths by suicide in the past fortnight in acute psychiatric units.

She mistakenly concluded that I was a "fan of the old, paternalistic style of psychiatric nursing, where patients share large dormitories and staff control their treatment". I have spent most of my working life campaigning for better services for the mentally ill, for the modernisation of services and for the mainstreaming of best practice in all of our services.

I pointed out that the factors which might predispose people to suicide in our services are complex. Historical care was risk averse, highly intrusive and placed a greater value on safety than privacy. Contemporary mental healthcare demands that patients be nursed in the least restrictive way possible, and their privacy and dignity be respected and facilitated. When this approach is adopted, the potential for adverse events, like suicide, is increased. This is merely a statement of fact.

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