Family inclusion | 

Andrew McGinley calls for change to Mental Health Act which he says would have saved kids' lives

"Had our proposed changes been in place then, Conor, Darragh and Carla would most certainly be alive today as would Una's daughters Zoe and Ella,” he said.

Conor, Darragh and Carla McGinley with their father Andrew

Eoghan Moloney

Andrew McGinley has called for a change to be written into the Mental Health Act which he said would have saved the lives of his three children, Conor, Darragh and Carla, who were killed by their mother Deirdre Morley, who was suffering from mental illness.

Mr McGinley, in conjunction with Una Butler, who lost her daughters Zoe and Ella in a similar incident when killed by their father John, are seeking family inclusion at all stages of a patient's mental health care.

Mr McGinley, through an open letter posted on his Conor’s Clips Twitter page, called for mental health patients to be proactively encouraged to include their family or an advocate to be included in their care and treatment at “every opportunity”.

“Based on our own experiences, Una Butler and I have campaigned to seek changes to the Mental Health Act. Had our proposed changes been in place then, Conor, Darragh and Carla would most certainly be alive today as would Una's daughters Zoe and Ella,” he said.

“The vast majority of the College of Psychiatry is in favour of family inclusion and advocacy.

“We are seeking that the current recommendation to proactively encourage a patient to include their family/advocate is written into the Act and is practised at every opportunity with the patient.”

Mr McGinley added: “Sharing the vision, Ireland’s national Mental Health Policy, clearly states that there is a role for family, carers and supporters in a person's care and treatment. Recommendations and policy are worthless unless practised.”

Mr McGinley argued that patients and those around them are suffering as the Mental Health Bill is “stagnating” as it undergoes pre-legislative scrutiny by the Joint Oireachtas Sub-Committee on Mental Health.

“In other words, it's stagnating while patients and those around them suffer,” Mr McGinley said.

He said the determination of when to break client confidentiality should “not be left to a clinician’s opinion” and said the Act must “clearly define when patient confidentiality is broken”.

“Current confidentiality may be broken if the patient is considered a danger to themselves or others. It should not be left to a clinician’s opinion,” he said.

“The abilities of an ill mind to make considerations, create responses and finalise decisions cannot be relied upon. Everything in relation to a patient should have a collective and inclusive approach from the clinicians, the patient and those there to support them.”

Mr McGinley added: “The consequences to the patient on having to make a decision alone is not currently considered.”

Non-emergency cases of people with mental health challenges should not experience medication as a “first response”, Mr McGinley argued, adding that: “medication only serves to mask the symptoms in the case of mental health challenges as social prescription of referring people to non clinical programmes should be the initial documented step in non emergency cases”.

“It’s too late for Conor, Darragh, Carla, Zoe and Ella. Please join us and contact your elected representative to help make change now,” Mr McGinley said.

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