A former prisoner is attacking the HSE for refusing community mental health services

A former prisoner is attacking the HSE for refusing community mental health services

A former prisoner with a serious mental illness and violent crime in the past has secured leave in the High Court to challenge the continuing refusal of a community mental health service to help cure his illness since his release from prison three years ago.

Judging by the man and his partner on Monday for judicial review against the HSE, Judge Charles Meenan said the case should be heard shortly given the man’s situation and the potential risks for him, his partner and the general public. .

Failure to provide the community services a man needs has led to a deterioration in his mental health and the public interest requires that services be provided, if not, there is a danger of a “very serious return,” his counselor Micheál told P. O’Higgins.

The HSE “strongly avoids” answering questions from the man and his lawyer, where he must turn to obtain services, the lawyer added.

The man, who is around 30 years old, has had mental health problems since childhood and cannot be identified by court order. In their action, he and his partner claim, between various claims, that the refusal of services and / or the assessment of his request for services is unfair, discriminatory and infringes their rights.

He said in an affidavit that his condition had improved after receiving regular counseling and support from a psychologist and psychiatrist in prison while serving a sentence for violent assault and other crimes, but because he had not received the services he needed since his release, his condition worsened. worsened.

Too high a risk

Mr O’Higgins and Brendan Hennessy BL, instructed by lawyer Eileen McCabe, said there appeared to be no request for the mental health teams in North Dublin (CMHT) to refuse to treat him on foot from a perspective that posed too high a forensic risk. .

The lawyer was not sure where this view came from and said that the background to the case was that the man had a “very sad life”, spent most of it in prison and had had violent crime in the past.

His doctor said she could not assess the forensic risk, but knew that other former prisoners with severe mental health problems received community services and that the man had a serious mental disorder that required specialized care.

The lawyer said that due to the refusal of services, the man had to be treated with an injection, which sometimes leads to excessive medication, which poses a danger to him and his partner.

The psychiatrist who visited him in prison had seen him “out of decency” from time to time, but that was not the full set of support he asked for, the lawyer added.

‘In desperation’

Because of the alleged failures of the HSE, the man said in a sworn statement that he had occasionally taken the wrong medications and / or the wrong dosage since his release, suffered from social exclusion, was unemployed and “in despair.” His relationship has suffered, he cannot seek long-term housing and he has had to postpone marriage and childbirth, they say.

He does not seek preferential treatment and was in court as a last resort because the HSE “refuses to deal with me at all”.

The man’s parents had significant addictions and mental health problems, which, according to his affidavit, resulted in him being placed in foster care as a toddler. His mental problems began early, and he remembered hearing at the age of seven the voices threatening to hurt him.

His home life was “quite chaotic,” he ran away, and from the age of 13 he was virtually homeless. As a juvenile, he was convicted of various crimes, including assault and robbery, and his offenses continued into adulthood.

He undressed several times in public because he was convinced that his clothes were “intercepted” by the authorities, who decided to close him again.

Deep regret

He says his previous convictions are “a source of deep remorse for me and I feel sincere remorse for all those who have been harmed by my actions.”

The services he received in prison led to his sense of stability “for the first time in my seven years, he overcame my mental health.”

The inability to provide community mental health services since his release led to a deterioration in his mental health and he began to experience psychosis again, he said. In 2024, he faces charges of attempted robbery and assault in downtown Dublin on about six months after his release. j

He went to the hospital emergency “out of despair,” but was refused and received no meaningful treatment for his schizophrenia. He knows of other former prisoners who have been refused admission to the emergency department when they have reported themselves in mental health crises and have continued to commit serious crimes shortly thereafter.

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