Man sues HSE over alleged refusal to access community-based mental health services

The court heard the man has spent a large part of his life in various forms of detention after he became involved in criminality at a relatively young age
Man sues HSE over alleged refusal to access community-based mental health services

High Court reporter

A man with a history of mental health problems has brought a High Court challenge over the alleged refusal of the HSE to allow him access community-based services.

The action has been brought by a man, who has been diagnosed with schizophrenia after suffering from hallucinations, hearing voices in his head, and disordered thinking.

He has spent a large part of his life in various forms of detention after he became involved in criminality at a relatively young age, the court heard.

The man, who is in his 30s, has also suffered from homelessness and addiction issues, and has convictions for offences including assault, causing serious harm and criminal damage.

The High Court heard that during his teens his mental health deteriorated, he was unable to cope and became a danger to himself and others.

While in prison, he was prescribed anti-psychotic medication and engaged in regular counselling and support from a psychologist which greatly improved his mental health.

However, following his release from prison, he has been unable to access the same mental health supports which he requires, including 'Cognitive Behavioural Therapy' on an ongoing basis.

As a result of the refusal, he has struggled and his mental health has deteriorated.

Forensic risk

Despite referrals from a psychiatrist and other medical experts, it is claimed the HSE will not accept any referrals of him claiming he is a "forensic risk".

The man says that schizophrenia is something that requires lifelong treatment and "will never be cured by simply taking medicine".

Despite repeated enquires, he has never been offered an appointment with the relevant Mental Health Service provider in his locality, nor has he received any acknowledgement that he has been accepted onto their waiting list.

Arising out of the HSE's most resent refusal to allow him access to community-based services, the man and his partner, who are represented by Michael O'Higgins SC, have brought High Court judicial review proceedings.

None of the parties involved can be named for legal reasons.

In their action, the couple seek an order quashing what they claim is the HSE's continued refusal to allow the man to access the community based mental health services.

He also seeks several declarations from the court including that the HSE erred in law, has no basis for finding the man was not entitled to community-based health care, and that the decision amounts to a breach of his constitutional rights and rights under the European Convention on Human Rights.

He further seeks a declaration that, given the exceptional circumstances of the man's case, he enjoys a constitutional right to the type of community-based care he seeks because he has suffered from mental health issues for most of his life.

Mr O'Higgins described the man's childhood as "chaotic", adding that he spent most of his life in foster care as his parents had addiction and mental health issues of their own.

Counsel said the man's doctors say he requires psychiatric services and treatment.

If he does not get the community services he requires there is a risk that he will revert to being a danger to himself and others, counsel said.

No adequate reasons have been given by the HSE as to why the man's application for services he is entitled to receive have been refused, the court heard.

The application for permission to bring the challenge came before Mr Justice Charles Meenan on Monday, who, on an ex-parte basis, granted the man permission to bring his challenge.

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