An Order detaining a pregnant child under Section 25 of the Mental Health Act 2001 was discharged by a District Court judge on the grounds that the child no longer had a mental health disorder in accordance with section 3 of the Mental Health Act.
The Order detaining the child was made several days earlier on the evidence of a consultant psychiatrist who reported that the child had a mental health disorder within the meaning of the Mental Health Act. The consultant psychiatrist was of the opinion that while the child was at risk of self harm and suicide as a result of the pregnancy, this could be managed by treatment and that termination of the pregnancy was not the solution for all of the child’s problems at that stage.
The application to discharge the order was made on behalf of the guardian ad litem (GAL) for the child who was appointed by the District Court judge in the course of making the order for detention. The GAL visited the young girl on several occasions and reported to the different judge hearing the discharge application that she did not wish to be detained and was extremely upset.
Another consultant psychiatrist was employed by the GAL to assess the young girl and determine whether or not she had a mental disorder in accordance with the Mental Health Act. That consultant psychiatrist was of the opinion that the young girl presented as being depressed, however, there was no evidence of a psychological disorder and she was dealing with her depression well. This consultant psychiatrist was of the opinion that the young girl was not suicidal and was not in immediate danger of committing suicide. The consultant psychiatrist concluded that as the young girl did not have a mental illness she could not be detained under the Mental Heath Act. The consultant psychiatrist also reported that the young girl had very strong views as to why she wanted a termination of her pregnancy.
The court heard evidence from the young girl’s treating adolescent psychiatrist who had last seen the young girl the day before the application. He was of the opinion that while the young girl remained agitated and angry, she did not suffer from an acute mental health disorder that warranted her detention under the Mental Health Act 2001. The consultant adolescent psychiatrist said that there was an initial concern of self-harm and that she was very distressed to find out about the pregnancy.
The consultant adolescent psychiatrist said that the young girl’s mental health was difficult to ascertain on admission because both the young girl and her mother thought that they were being transferred to Dublin for a termination and she was very agitated when she found that she was being admitted to a mental health unit. He said that he fully agreed with the report of the consultant psychiatrist employed by the GAL that there was no evidence of a mental health disorder.
The GAL pointed out that there was no conflict regarding the evidence from the two consultant psychiatrists and therefore the Order should be discharged immediately. The GAL outlined that although an application was made in respect of the child’s right to travel, it was not necessary that the court consider the application under that ground, but rather solely on the basis that the child did not have a mental health disorder and therefore could not be detained under the Mental Health Act 2001.
The judge was satisfied on the evidence before her that the young girl did not suffer from a mental health disorder in accordance with the Mental Health Act 2001 and discharged the Order detaining the young girl. The judge said that the District Court judge [who heard the initial application] had applied all of the protective factors of the Child Care Act 1991 by appointing a GAL for the young girl. The judge also noted that a GAL had been appointed for the unborn child in accordance with the case law in the High Court. The judge finally noted that the views of the child were heard through the evidence of the GAL and the report of the GAL. As there was no longer an Order of the District Court detaining the young girl under the Mental Health Act, the judge said that she was entitled to be discharged.