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Service users’ experiences of mental health tribunals in Ireland: a qualitative analysis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

R. Murphy, D. Mcguinness, E. Bainbridge, L. Brosnan, M. Keys, H. Felzmann, K. Murphy, B. Hallahan, A. Higgins, C. Mcdonald

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1-10
JournalIrish Journal of Psychological Medicine
Early online date15 Jun 2017
Accepted/In press24 Apr 2017
E-pub ahead of print15 Jun 2017


King's Authors


Objectives. To explore the mental health tribunal experiences of people admitted involuntarily under the Mental Health
Act 2001.
Methods. Employing a qualitative descriptive study design, data were collected from23 service users who had experienced
mental health tribunals during a recent involuntary admission. Face-to-face semi-structured interviews were conducted
~3 months post-revocation of their involuntary admission order. Data were analysed using an inductive thematic process.
Results. The majority of participants reported mixed experiences comprising positive and negative aspects in relation to
information provision, emotional support and an inclusive atmosphere. Some participants reported receiving accessible
information about the tribunal process, felt emotionally supported throughout, and encountered respectful and dignifying
practices during the tribunal proceedings. However, many participants described experiencing non-inclusive
practices, reported feeling ill-informed regarding the tribunal process, emotionally unsupported during and after the
tribunal, and distressed by what they perceived as adversarial tribunal proceedings.
Conclusions. Systemic changes could ensure that the positive experiences encountered by the minority of participants in
this study are more consistently experienced. Ongoing education and training of stakeholders in the provision of inclusive
tribunal practices, and the provision of accessible information and emotional support to service users through the stages
of the involuntary admission process appear likely to be beneficial. Service users should automatically be offered the
option of having a support person of their choosing present during tribunals.

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