Mental health law assessments: interagency cooperation and practice complexities

Gavin Davidson, Montserrat Fargas, Bernadette Hamilton, Katie Connaughty, Karen Harvey, Gerry Lynch, Delia McCartan, John McCosker, Jackie Scott

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Citations (Scopus)
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Background: Assessments under mental health law, to determine whether compulsory admission is necessary, tend to be complex, multidisciplinary and inter-agency processes. This article presents the results of a regional audit of assessments under the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986.

Aims: The aims of the audit were to examine routine practice, identify any issues, and so inform how policy and practice may be developed.

Method: The audit was designed by an inter-agency, multi-disciplinary advisory group and audit team. Data were collected for a sample of 189 assessments. The sample was weighted to ensure all Health and Social Care Trust areas and settings were appropriately represented.

Results: These assessments involve high levels of need, risk and complexity. There were no major issues or concerns identified in the majority of assessments. The issues that were identified were mainly due to the difficulties in coordinating professionals and in securing a bed. In 3/189 (2%) of assessments, these issues were identified as contributing to increased distress and risk.

Conclusions: The results highlight the complexities of these assessment processes and confirm the need for inter-agency interface groups to further promote cooperation and identify when pressures on resources are increasing risk and distress.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)74-79
Number of pages6
JournalJournal of Mental Health
Issue number1
Early online date26 Jun 2019
Publication statusPublished - 2021


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