FAQ

If you have a question, you might find our frequently asked questions below helpful. 

The Mental Health Commission is an independent statutory body. The primary functions of the Mental Health Commission are to foster and promote high standards of care and good practice in the delivery of mental health services and to ensure that the interests of those involuntarily admitted are protected, pursuant to the Mental Health Act 2001.

A 'centre' is “a hospital or other in-patient facility for the care and treatment of persons suffering from mental illness or mental disorder” (Mental Health Act 2001). To operate an in-patient mental health service in Ireland, the service must be registered as an ‘approved centre’ with the Mental Health Commission. Each centre must re-register for approval every 3 years. Upon registration, the service must comply with regulations made under the Mental Health Act 2001. Failure to comply with regulations may result in enforcement action including: corrective and preventative action plans, an immediate action notice, a regulatory compliance meeting, registration conditions, removal from the register (closure) and prosecution. 

Since 1 November 2006, everyone who is involuntarily admitted to an approved centre under the Mental Health Acts 2001-2018 is reviewed by what is known as a “mental health tribunal” or “tribunal” within 21 days of the making of the admission or renewal order detaining the person. The tribunals are independent and the reviews are there to protect patients’ rights. The Commission is responsible for establishing these tribunals within strict time limits.  

The tribunal reviews take place in the mental health units where the patient is detained. The tribunal reviews the order detaining the patient, associated facts and evidence, and will decide if the detention is in accordance with the law. 

There are 39 areas in the inspection process of approved mental health centres. Each approved centre is assessed against a suite of regulations, rules, and codes of practice. Inspectors, over a three day period, use a combination of documentation review, observation and interview to assess compliance. 

During the inspections of approved centres, areas of inspection are deemed either compliant or non-compliant. Where areas are considered non-compliant, this is risk rated. Risk measurements are rated as low, moderate, high or critical.  Critical or high risk ratings are deemed as serious non-compliant issues that should be addressed immediately. 

The Commission does not have the legal powers to investigate complaints. If you have a complaint about a mental health service, you can visit the following website, which will give you a step by step guide to having your complaint heard www.healthcomplaints.ie

If you contact us with a concern about a specific service, we may direct you to the Inspector of Mental Health Services if appropriate. The Inspector logs all concerns that relate to mental health services and these are taken into account on inspection of services. 

If we believe that there is a serious risk to the health and welfare of service users, we have the power to undertake, or be required by the Minister for Health to undertake an investigation into the safety, quality and standard of care in a particular mental health service. 

The DSS is an essential service for all adults who have difficulties with decision-making capacity. This may include people with an intellectual disability, mental illness or acquired brain injury, as well as people with age-related conditions who may need supports to make decisions. The DSS is provided for under the Assisted Decision Making (Capacity) Act 2015. The 2015 Act is a significant piece of reforming human rights legislation which provides a modern statutory framework for supported decision-making. The supports provided for, and monitored by the DSS, will help to ensure that people are afforded the fundamental human rights to make their own decisions as far as possible about their personal welfare, property and affairs and finances. 

Under the provisions of the 2015 Act, the remit of the Mental Health Commission was extended to include the establishment of the DSS. The DSS is one of four functions of the MHC. Although it is not confined to mental health, the DSS has found a natural home in the MHC as it (the MHC) has vital experience of setting up innovative structures under reforming legislation to deliver on a human rights agenda. The Director of the DSS, Áine Flynn, sits on the Executive (SLT) of the MHC.

The MHC developed a standardised and evidence-based regulatory support framework at the beginning of April 2020 to help protect more than 3,800 residents and patients of 176 mental health facilities across the country during the Covid-19 pandemic. The Department of Health had formally requested that the MHC undertake a risk rating exercise as part of enhanced public health measures for Covid-19 disease management for the purposes of liaising with national and regional governance structures to support services. The MHC engaged all their resources to promptly develop a risk assessment framework to contact and assess services in terms of their preparedness, environment and disease progression.