Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Mental Health James Browne TD says his party has played a key role in securing additional investment for mental health services in Budget 2017.

Deputy Browne further added that the Government must use the €35m funding allocation to achieve full implementation of the ‘A Vision for Change’ strategy for mental health services.

“The allocation of €35m to mental health services in Budget 2017 is a positive development. The Government has starved mental health of vital funding in recent years and this has damaged the provision of services. This allocation will help undo the damage that has been caused, and we can now work towards building a first class mental health service,” said Deputy Browne.

“The Confidence and Supply Arrangement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael commits to the full implementation of the ‘A Vision for Change’ policy, and this remains a key priority for us. The Budget 2017 allocation will help achieve this, but the Government needs to drive forward reforms in our mental health services.

“There are a number of outstanding issues with our mental health services which need to be resolved, such as the provision of a 7-day-a-week mental health support service in every catchment area across the country. The practice of admitting people suffering from mental health issues to Emergency Departments needs to come to an end.

“I also want to see increased staffing for the child and adolescent community mental health teams. At the end of 2015 the staffing levels for such teams was just 51% of the levels recommended in ‘A Vision for Change’. This is unacceptable as effectively it means many children are being cared for in an adult psychiatric ward setting. The Government needs to use the Budget 2017 funding allocation to address this problem.

“Budget 2017 is positive for our mental health services, but the €35m allocation needs to be followed up with actual delivery on the ground,” concluded Deputy Browne.