Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne TD says the news that a children’s mental health facility in Dublin is to close half of its beds is the clearest sign yet that the Government’s mental health strategy is failing.

The Government’s ‘Vision for Change’ mental health strategy outlines that Ireland needs at least 100 beds for child and adolescent patients in order to meet demand. However the closure of these beds will mean that just 52 beds will be available for child and adolescent patients.

Deputy Browne said, “The news that Linn Dara is to close half of its inpatient beds is shocking and clearly shows that there is a crisis in our mental health services. The Government continuously repeats the mantra that it is prioritising investment in mental health services but the experience on the ground shows us that at best we are standing still and in many instances we are moving backwards.

“The HSE must clarify whether Linn Dara is currently operating over-budget as many suspect that this is the real reason for these bed closures. The Minister for Mental Health Helen McEntee has stated on a number of occasions that she has been unable to secure additional investment for mental health services as the HSE has indicated it is unable to spend its current allocation. However patients’ experience on the ground shows that there is much room for improvement in our mental health services. A lack of co-ordinated planning and resource allocation is leading to serious problems across our mental health services.

“The level of underinvestment in mental health services in recent years has led to a situation where children are being admitted to adult Acute Mental Health Unit’s on a regular basis. Earlier this month it was reported that a 16 year old patient spent the night on a chair at an adult psychiatric unit. Unfortunately this kind of incident is repeated on a regular basis right across the country.

“The ‘Vision for Change’ policy framework makes it explicitly clear that we need at least 100 beds for child and adolescent patients just to meet current demand. However instead of moving closer to this target we are actually moving backwards. The Government has made a clear commitment under the Confidence and Supply Arrangement to achieve full implementation of the ‘Vision for Change’ framework. The Government needs to urgently show progress in this area,” concluded Deputy Browne.