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Conference on the implementation of the Mental Health Act organised on the initiative of the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia

07.09.2015 09:11
Category: work and news

On the initiative of Deputy Ombudsman Ivan Šelih, presented at the March meeting of the Human Rights Ombudsman of the Republic of Slovenia (Ombudsman) with mental health advocates, a conference on the implementation of the Mental Health Act was organised by the Judicial Training Centre of the Slovenian Ministry of Justice in cooperation with the Bar Association of Slovenia on 3 and 4 September 2015. In addition to laying down the rights of persons with mental health problems or mental developmental disorders, the aforementioned Act regulates several issues relevant to compulsory detention of these persons in psychiatric hospital wards under special supervision or in social welfare institutions, the use of special precautionary measures (restraints, restriction of movement to a single room) and special treatment methods.
The conference was held at the Bernardin Congress Centre in Portorož, chaired by a higher-court judge from the Ljubljana Higher Court; experts from various fields presented their views on the implementation of the Mental Health Act and their roles therein, work in the field of mental health, case-law, and practices of different institutions, such as psychiatric establishments. In their presentations and lively discussions representatives of justice, attorneys, prosecutors, mental health advocates, social work centres and non-governmental organisations outlined their views of the issues covered by the aforementioned Act. They pointed to a number of pending questions which undoubtedly indicate a need for further discussion with a view to solving problems and ambiguities and thus contributing towards improved functioning of all who are basically entrusted with safeguarding the rights of persons in terms of mental health.

Ombudsman’s findings regarding the implementation of the Mental Health Act were presented by Deputy Ombudsman Šelih and Ombudsman’s adviser Markič. Deputy Ombudsman Šelih presented the efforts in mental health made by the Ombudsman since the establishment of the office, while the Ombudsman’s adviser Markič outlined the findings of the national preventive mechanism (NPM) from visits to psychiatric hospitals and social welfare institutions. The Ombudsman strongly recommended the earliest possible adoption of required amendments to the Mental Health Act (arrangements for placement of persons who lack capacity to contract to a secure ward of a social welfare institution).

The turnout of some 140 participants exceeded the expectations and confirmed the need for such a conference. Deputy Ombudsman Šelih expressed his belief that the exchange of views and experience between all stakeholders involved could improve the quality of work and contribute to the common good of persons covered by the Mental Health Act and therefore encouraged the organisers to consider holding such meetings annually.

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