Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne says a new Bill introduced by his party will ensure that mental health is to the forefront in key decisions being made by the Department of Health.

The Mental Health Parity Bill 2017 will see mental health wellbeing treated the same as physical health.

Deputy Browne explained, “For too long mental health has been the poor relation of the Department of Health. Services are well behind where they should be, and despite numerous promises to increase funding, the government is simply not investing enough in supports and resources. As a result, our mental health services are crumbling under the pressure.

“Last year I introduced the Mental Health Parity Bill 2017, which aims to address the inequity in the current system. It places an onus on the Department of Health to ensure that mental health is at the heart of all key decisions made.

“In recent weeks, we have seen the failure of the system to deal with the demands being placed on it. Last week RTE exposed the serious gaps in our Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in a special programme, “Young and Troubled”, which focussed on children and youth mental health services. The stories were heartbreaking. Unfortunately for many families, these experiences are all too familiar as the standard of care that children receive can depend on where they live.

“There are cases where adults are being kept in prisons because there are no beds for them in the Central Mental Hospital. People with mental health problems are being failed by this government.

“Mental health must be treated with the same urgency and importance as physical health. This Bill aims to achieve that by introducing a new provision which will compel senior decision makers in the Department of Health to treat mental health on a par with physical well-being.

“The government cannot sit on its hands as the mental health system spirals out of control. I am urging Ministers and TDs on all sides of the House to support this Bill and put mental health considerations at the heart of all policy decisions”.