Govt lip service to mental health highlights need for change – Keaveney

Published on: 19 February 2016

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney says the Government parties’ failure to commit to funding for mental health in their manifestos sends a clear signal that the sector is not a priority for them.  Over the past five years this Government has overseen a crisis in mental health, while simultaneously diverting money away from the sector.

“Fine Gael and Labour have demonstrated a complete lack of political will to deal with the mental health crisis.  They have launched a series of plans and initiatives but have failed to outline any real targets, but more worryingly they have not allocated sufficient funding.

“Every year we have seen money, which was meant to be ringfenced for mental health spending diverted to other areas of the health service.  This Government is essentially raiding the mental health budget to paper over the cracks in other departments. We are now looking at an underspend in the region of €60m for 2015.  This is an issue that I have raised time and time again but the scale of the problem is falling on deaf ears.  Ministers Lynch and Varadkar simply don’t want to know.

“Fianna Fáil realises the importance of a functioning mental health service.  We have set aside €187.5m, in addition to current spending levels, for dedicated mental health spending.  We will establish a new National Mental Health Authority to oversee a cohesive mental health strategy as well as increasing staffing levels to the 12,000 required under A Vision for Change.

“There has been a distinct lack of political leadership in the area of mental health and now the public are being presented with an opportunity to change that.  Fianna Fáil will ensure that the staff, resources and mental health infrastructure is put in place to support people in vulnerable circumstances.”

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