– 520 approved positions allocated in 2015 and 2016 remain unfilled while waiting lists grow –

Fianna Fáil Mental Health Spokesperson James Browne TD has criticised the slow delivery of urgently needed mental health posts which are required to fulfil the commitments made under A Vision for Change.

In figures obtained by the Deputy through parliamentary question, the HSE confirmed that just 230 out of 750 mental health posts that were approved in 2015 and 2016 have been filled.

Commenting on the figures Deputy Browne said, “Currently across Ireland there are extensive waiting lists in mental health services whether in CAMHS or psychology appointments in primary care.

“Less than one in three positons, for which some €70 million in funding was announced over 2015-2016, have been filled.

“390 posts were to be provided for by the end of 2015 yet as of July 2017, only 150 of these positions have been filled. Similarly, 360 positions were allocated for as part of 2016 funding but by the middle of this year a mere 80 of those were in place. These are severe staff shortages and crucial positions that urgently need to be filled.

“While listening to contributions at the Mental Health Symposium which took place last week, it struck me that if we struggle to employ the necessary levels of staff then we will continue to fail those who need these often lifesaving services.

The Deputy concluded, “The Government may claim that mental health is a priority but the actions do not match the words and token gestures will no longer suffice. The fact is that we still do not have anywhere near an adequate level of support for people with mental health difficulties. This must change.”