Irish Mental Health Act 2001

By Dr Larkin Feeney and Dr Brendan D. Kelly


Last updated: June 2015


The Mental Health Act 2001 represents the most important reform of Ireland’s mental health laws in over half a century. It replaces and updates a number of older pieces of legislation, most notably the Mental Treatment Act 1945 (Department of Health, 1945). The Act has profound implications for patients, carers, mental health professionals and the public. 


The purpose of this module is to outline the central provisions of the Mental Health Act 2001 as they relate to psychiatric practice in Ireland. This module does not aim to examine the issues surrounding delays in the implementation of the Act; these issues are well explored elsewhere (Daly, 2005; Ganter, 2005; Lawlor, 2005; Owens, 2005).


This module offers guidance on:


  • the background to the development of the Mental Health Act 2001


  • definitions of mental illness and other terms according to the Act


  • involuntary admission of persons to approved centres


  • independent review of detention


  • consent to treatment


  • approved centres and miscellaneous other matters.


Start the module


Please note: This module was last updated in 2015. Please be aware when completing the module that some of the guidance may have changed.

If you are interested in updating this material, please contact us.

If you like this module, you may also be interested in:


Advance directives in Ireland by Dr Joan Cunningham


FREDA: a human rights-based approach to clinical practice by Dr Martin Curtice, Dr Richard Symonds and Dr Tim Exworthy


GAIN Guidelines: Mental Health (NI) Order 1986 - an introduction by Dr Caroline Donnelly, Bernadette Hamilton, Dr Roinin McNally and Dr Peter Sloan


Human rights and the Human Rights Act 1998 – implications for psychiatrists by Dr Martin Curtice and Dr Richard Symonds




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