This new GAIN Mental Health (NI) Order 1986 Guideline also offers a practical, accessible, available e-learning package for all the agencies involved in mental health care. These include the NI Ambulance Service (NIAS), Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), Health & Social Care Board, (HSCB), Health & Social Care Trusts (HSCT), Police Service of NI (PSNI), Professional Bodies, NI Medical & Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA) and service users and carers.

All of these agencies have significant powers to intervene in people's lives yet there has been no recent guidance taking into account changes over the past 25 years which include changes in the Order and its interpretation, related legislation, political and organisational change, changes in service delivery and changes in the expectations of service users. The Guideline takes account of developments in legislation, practice and services as far as possible and is further supported by a list of resources which are available for download at

The new Guideline therefore fills a longstanding gap for those charged with operating the Mental Health (NI) Order 1986 and we hope it will also provide a pathway for the introduction of planned new developments in mental health legislation.

This guideline addresses the needs of an important and vulnerable group in society and its aim is to enable a wide range of professionals who have been given responsibilities under the "Order" to use them in an informed way, taking a principled and a human rights perspective.

At the beginning of the process no one anticipated the amount of work and commitment which would be involved. GAIN would like to thank the agencies, professionals, carers and service users in the project team who freely gave their time, expertise and experience in the development of this guideline and its innovative e-learning package.

Professor Robin Davidson

Professor Robin Davidson
Chairman of GAIN Operational Committee