Fianna Fáil Spokesperson for Mental Health James Browne TD says Budget 2017 must bring about increased investment in mental health services.

Deputy Browne said, “The Confidence and Supply Agreement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael commits to the full implementation of the Vision for Change policy, and this is a key priority for us in Budget 2017.

“The recommendations of Vision for Change were based on the population figure of 3.9m from the 2002 census. The total recommended staff level was 10,647 at that time. However, we must now take account of the fact that the population has risen to 4.7m, which means the requirements for staffing needs to be adjusted to approximately 12,760. The HSE have informed me that the current staff levels as of June 2016 are 9,514.

“This means that personnel numbers are currently at 75% of the Vision for Change recommended levels adjusted for population growth. The HSE has also informed me that staffing levels across all of the community mental health teams is at 67% of the Vision for Change recommended levels.

“These deficits must be addressed and Fianna Fáil will be pushing for funding to be increased by at least €37.5 million in the next Budget. The Department of Health previously told Fianna Fáil that this amount would be required annually over five years to fully implement A Vision for Change.

“Many people were struck by the absence in the new Programme for Government of any specific funding commitment for mental health services. The previous Programme for Government from 2011 – 2016 did commit to funding mental health services, although this commitment was not always honoured, as was the case in 2014 when €20m was allocated instead of the previously promised €35m.

“The full honouring of commitments on mental health will be critical in the 32nd Dáil, and Fianna Fáil will be pushing for a meaningful increase in funding for such services.”