Researcher Profile: Dr. Mary Keys

Introducing Mary Keys

Mary Keys‌ Dr Mary Keys is a leading authority on mental health law and policy.  She is a lecturer in the School of Law, NUI Galway.  She was awarded a Ph.D. by the Cardiff University Law School, University of Wales, in 2006 on the topic of human rights and mental health law.  Her main research focus is in mental health law and policy.  Mary is currently serving a second term as a member of the Mental Health Commission, having being reappointed as the representative of the public interest, in 2012.  Prior to becoming a full-time member of staff in the School of Law in 1999 she worked as a psychiatric social worker in the mental health services in Ireland and in the United Kingdom.  She has held a number of significant administrative roles within the School of Law, including Associate Dean for Student Affairs from 2001-2009 and Associate Head for Teaching and Learning from 2009-2010.  She is a member of the Advisory Group for the Going to College Project at NUI Galway.  She has served for many years on the NUI Galway Research Ethics Committee.  She is a founding member of the Centre for Disability Law and Policy at NUI Galway and serves on the Centre’s Management Committee.

Mary's Research

Mary is a leading authority on Irish and comparative mental health law and policy.  She is also an expert on mental health and international human rights law undertaking research on the European Convention on Human Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities.  In 2011 Mary chaired a subcommittee of the Mental Health Commission, which prepared its submission on the Review of the Mental Health Act 2001.  Mary’s expertise is regularly drawn upon by governmental and non-governmental bodies seeking her advice on complex legal issues in the areas such as mental health law and policy, health law and policy and legal capacity.  She regularly speaks at national and international conferences.  In February 2012 representing the Mental Health Commission she appeared before the Oireachtas Committee on Justice, Defence and Equality hearing on the Mental Capacity Bill 2008.  In July 2012 the Minister for Justice announced that Mary was chosen as a member of the selection panel to select members for the newly established Irish Human Rights and Equality Commission.

Mary’s research is primarily in the areas of mental health law and policy and legal capacity.  She regularly writes scholarly articles on these areas of law and has produced the leading annotation of the Mental Health Act 2001.  In addition, to her scholarly outputs Mary undertakes a considerable amount of action orientated research by way of submissions to Government Departments and inputs on an ongoing basis to the national processes of law reform with a view to promoting human rights compliant mental health law and policy.  Dr Keys has played an important role in advocating for the human rights of service users, ex-users and survivors of psychiatry in Ireland.  

In collaboration with colleagues and students from the School of Law Mary produced a resource entitled “Making Your Decisions Legal information to enable, support and build your capacity to make your own decisions: A Guide to Support Decision Making”.  This project produced a series of booklets that translated the current law on capacity (decision-making) into meaningful easy to read information for persons with disabilities, self-advocates, family members and support services.  The booklets are aimed at supporting people to express their will and preferences and exercise their choices and to have their decisions respected.