Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy
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Solitary confinement 'should be banned'

Mental illness is prevalent in prisons, with an average of 20 prisoners awaiting a move to CMH at any time

Four seriously mentally ill prisoners are detained in safety observation cells but solitary confinement should be prohibited when mental disability would be exacerbated, a new report says. Mental illness is prevalent in prisons, with an average of 20 prisoners awaiting a move to CMH at any time. The report ‘Progress in the Penal System (PIPS) A framework for penal reform (2017)’ concluded that safety observation cells and close supervision cells 'should not be put in capacity figures'.

 The report also recommended that the Department of Health should work towards eliminating mental health assessment waiting lists. An important recommendation was that mental health supports should be available for children affected by parental imprisonment.

 A serious lack of data means the prevalence of serious mental health conditions is ‘unknown’.  Mental health and addictions are 'key areas that require considerable work'. Mental health supports should be available to prisoners in the system. People with mental health issues shouldn't be in prison but diverted immediately to treatment, the report found. The ratio of psychologists to prison population was judged to be 'quite low'.

The Irish Penal Reform Trust report seeks to determine “if we are making progress in the penal system". It is available at: 


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Timeframe for statutory registration


Draft regulations to designate the professions of Counsellors and Psychotherapists and to establish a registration board will be ready for submission to the Houses of the Oireachtas for their approval during the present session, the Minister for Health, Simon Harris, has told the Dail.


The Minister recently concluded a public consultation on  his proposal to regulate counsellors generally under the Health and Social Care Professionals Act 2005.


On foot of the consultation process, He has decided to proceed with the designation of two distinct professions under the Act, that of counsellor and psychotherapist. Each will have its own register under one registration board. This decision has been communicated to the Health and Social Care Professionals Council, the relevant professional bodies and all the respondents to the public consultation process.


Subject to the approval of the Houses, the next step will be the appointment of the 13 members of the registration board, following the submission of suitable candidates for the Minister's consideration, by the Public Appointments Service. The aim is that the registration board will be in a position early in the New Year to begin the task of drafting the various bye-laws to allow it to establish its registers.



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