Wednesday, 31 October 2012

A woman whose husband took his own life after he killed their two daughters has called for changes in the way mental health patients are treated.

Cork widow calls for mental health changes

Updated: 13:50, Wednesday, 31 October 2012
Una Butler says partners of mental health patients must also be included in their treatment
Una Butler from Ballycotton in Co Cork wants mandatory risk assessments to be conducted on the families and children of mental health patients.

She also wants the Mental Health Act to be changed to require medical personnel to involve the partners and families of mental health patients in their treatment.

In November 2010, John Butler killed six-year-old Zoe and two-year-old Ella at their home, before killing himself in his car a short distance away.

Mr Butler had been suffering from depression, for which he had received psychiatric treatment.
The 2001 Mental Health Act governs the treatment of patients with mental illness and the legislation is currently being reviewed.

An expert group appointed to review the Mental Health Act is due to issue its report by March of next year.

Minister of State with responsibility for mental health Kathleen Lynch said she has asked the expert group to examine calls by Ms Butler for changes to the law.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Ms Lynch said she has forwarded all correspondence from Ms Butler to the expert group and to the Mental Health Commission.

The minister said she has met Ms Butler twice and was impressed by her obvious strength and determination that others will not suffer in the way she did.

She said she was not certain that you can put into law how clinicians treat people that come to them, and that it was a difficult area that may have to be dealt with by way of guidelines.

However, she pledged to listen to the recommendations of the expert group.

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