A report by the Mental Health Commission has revealed a significant increase in restrictive practices in Irish mental health facilities.

The Commission said there were over 7,000 cases of such practices reported to them last year, which is an increase of 57% compared to a decade ago.

Commission's Chief Executive John Farrelly said that the report shows a lack of oversight by the Health Service Executive and has called for a new strategy to reduce this number in future.

Speaking to RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Mr Farrelly said the increase over 10 years was "concerning", with less admissions than back in 2008. 

He said the longest that one person has been secluded for was 111 hours, and said the overall trend of people being secluded has gone down, but the period of each case of seclusion is on average longer.

Mr Farrelly said Ireland needed to get around changing its services for the better, and mental health units need to be places of safety, compassion and care, and designed properly.

He said he would rather see people spend a number of hours de-escalating a situation than use any form of restrictive practice.

The report documents the use of seclusion, mechanical restraint and physical restraint in all approved centres for the care and treatment of those suffering from mental illness during the years 2017 and 2018.

However, it also draws comparisons with figures reported by the Commission in 2008 - the year the mental health regulator first commenced reporting on restrictive practices across approved units.

The Commission reported 4,765 combined episodes of physical restraint and seclusion in 2008. In contrast, it said there were 7,420 episodes of restrictive practices reported to the Commission in 2017, and 7,499 in 2018. 

The report showed an 18% increase in episodes of physical restraint over a 12-month period, with 5,665 episodes recorded in 2018 compared to 4,773 in 2017.

Physical restraint was used in 85% of centres in 2018, as opposed to 81% in 2017, while 1,207 people were physically restrained in 2018, 82 more people than in 2017.

There were 1,799 episodes of seclusion in 2018, compared to 1,392 in 2017, a 29% increase year-on-year.

The report also noted that seclusion was used in 42% of centres in 2018, and that there were 317 episodes in 2018 where a person was secluded for more than 24 hours, and 81 episodes where a person was secluded for over 72 hours, both totals showing a significant increase from 2017.

In contrast, the use of mechanical restraint was low in 2017 and 2018. Only one approved centre - the Central Mental Hospital in Dublin - reported the use of mechanical restraint, with all episodes involving the use of handcuffs.