Involuntary admission of young people to approved centres in Ireland: finding the voice of the young person a rights-based perspective
University College Cork
This thesis applies a children’s rights-based perspective to the involuntary admission of young people to an approved centre in Ireland. Children’s rights are an important evolving component of human rights-based law. This thesis is concerned with the voice of the young person, aged 16-18 years, in the involuntary admission process and the evaluation of proposals for reform. Given the prevalence of young people with mental health difficulties in Ireland and our domestic and legal obligations to ensure that their voices are heard in all matters that affect them, it is timely to consider the extent to which this is achieved in the mental health context and to consider proposals for reform. As part of this evaluation this thesis answers three research questions. First, what is the legal basis for the recognition of the voice of the young person in respect of their mental health? Secondly, how is the voice of the young person currently heard in Irish mental health law and policy? And thirdly, how effective are the proposed reforms of the mental health legal framework and the District Court? The purpose of this engagement with a children’s rights-based approach is to evaluate the basis for the recognition of the voice of the young person. In the early chapters of this thesis this evaluation is based on the international standards of the Convention on the Rights of the Child and the Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. This evaluation is also considered at a European level pursuant to the European Convention on Human Rights. This evaluation is completed at a domestic level by considering how the voice of the young person is protected under the Irish Constitution. This thesis looks beyond the law to fully appreciate what happens in practice during the involuntary admission process. To this end the research is enhanced by the inclusion of an empirical study consisting of interviews with a range of professionals involved in the involuntary admission of young people and court observation. However, the thesis also acknowledges the tensions and the disconnect between the findings of the empirical study and other direct evidence from studies concerning young people. Suggestions are made in the final chapters of this thesis regarding how the proposed reforms of the Mental Health Act, 2001 might be further amended to ensure that young people with mental health difficulties are provided with an opportunity to have a meaningful say concerning their mental health.
Young people , Involuntary admission , Voice of the young person , Rights-based perspective , Mental health
Ralston, J. 2022. Involuntary admission of young people to approved centres in Ireland: finding the voice of the young person a rights-based perspective. PhD Thesis, University College Cork.