A member of my family has severe bipolar disorder. When he is in mania he is uncontrollable, impossible to deal with, becomes violent and erratic, starting crazy schemes to make billions, open to being ripped off by opportunistic scumbags, a danger to himself and to those around him. I have personally had him committed twice, to save him from being found dead somewhere, and he has been committed twice more. He becomes calm and rational for a while, usually descends into depression and suicidal ideation, then back on the same cycle. Sometimes he doesn't take his meds properly, other times he takes his meds exactly as prescribed but still ends up inside.
When he is in hospital, either the secure unit or else the local hospital unit if he is calm and mannerly, he and the other patients are left to do nothing all day. The secure unit is the worst. There is no structure provided to their days, there are no educational opportunities, no art therapy or musical therapy, no exercise facilities, nothing. They're just left there. The people who work there are fine, often nice people - but their job is basically that of a prison warder. If it's the secure unit then violent prisoners end up there, sometimes threatening him. He was locked in a toilet for four hours once - no-one noticed. He had one other sh1tting in his bed (not out of badness - they just did it). They're basically just left inside to rot all day, in an environment that feels like a Victorian prison. Out of sight, out of mind.
If there were any possible alternative I'd take it. Sometimes he is so out of control that I have no alternative but to have him committed, even though I am sickened by what I know he is going to end up living with for months. In other countries, people with mental health illnesses are put in environments geared towards improving their condition - thoughtful activities, a pleasant environment, opportunities to learn or to exercise. In Ireland it's as if the mental health treatment is designed to make them even worse. It is, I believe, an affront to human dignity, and possibly a breach of the European Convention on Human Rights.
None of this, to be clear, is a criticism of the individuals who work in these places, they and the doctors do their jobs as diligently as they can. But the system is barbaric, and should be a source of shame to Ireland. If someone got inside one of these units with a camera and filmed the day-to-day life of people in them, there'd be uproar, possibly internationally. There needs to be a complete overhaul of how Ireland treats the mentally ill.