Fianna Fáil TD for Longford – Westmeath Robert Troy has accused the Government of reneging on its promise to provide €35m in funding for mental health services in 2017.

Deputy Troy has supported the call made by Mental Health Reform for a review of the funding allocation for mental health services in 2017.

“The Minister for Health Simon Harris initially said that €35m would be invested in mental health services next year. However less than a week later Minister of State for Mental Health Helen McEntee outlined that just €15m of the allocation would be spent in 2017,” said Deputy Troy.

“The Government has essentially halved the funding earmarked for mental health services next year. This is despite the fact that there has been significant under-investment in mental health services in recent years. Staffing levels in child and adolescent services are currently 48% below recommended levels, while staffing levels across the board are 21% below target.

“I have met many families who can’t access the mental health services that they desperately need. They are stuck on waiting lists for 12 months or more, which just shows how under-funded our mental health services are. Unfortunately I am in dialogue with families who feel totally let down by HSE and lost a loved one as a consequence. There have been a number of failings by the HSE when it comes to the provision of mental health services. This is putting lives at risk,” warned Deputy Troy.

“Services here in Longford and Westmeath need urgent investment. One of our local support groups, ‘Good to Talk’, have had their funding cut entirely for 2016. The group provides an affordable counselling service. This service was going to have to close if it were not for the generosity of the local community who assisted fundraising efforts.

“Significant work is needed to bring our mental health services up to standard. This cannot be achieved without adequate funding. Currently the Government is planning to increase mental health funding by a measly 1.6% in 2017, as opposed to a 7.4% funding increase across the health sector. This clearly shows that mental health services simply are not a priority for Fine Gael.

“I support the call made by Mental Health Reform for an urgent review of funding for mental health services in 2017. Fianna Fáil remains committed to fully implementing the ‘Vision for Change’ roadmap for mental health services. The Government should bring forward a multi-annual service plan for the mental health sector in order to achieve this.”