Minister needs to act not react on mental health crisis – Keaveney

Published on: 24 June 2015

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney says the Government’s latest initiative aimed at tackling suicide is not sufficiently clear in its targets and will be massively underfunded.  With at least 500 people taking their own lives in 2012, and indications that these figures have remained high in recent years, Deputy Keaveney is calling for a clear, co-ordinated action plan, which addresses mental health issues at a community as well as national level.

The Galway East TD commented, “It is hard to escape the impression that this latest national strategy appears to be more about presentation than it is about improving much needed mental health services.  Minister Kathleen Lynch has admitted that no extra funding is being allocated to the plan, despite announcing a commitment to provide a co-ordinated, 24/7 service.  The €10m budget for this strategy pales into insignificance when compared to the chronic underspend in mental health services over the past 2 years, which has now topped €70m.

“Instead of presenting concrete plans to address this crisis, Minister Lynch is taking a reactionary approach to the escalating situation.  This new strategy is a blatant reaction to the range of horrific testimonies from mental services across the regions.

“Under the Minister’s watch, waiting lists for child psychiatry services have now hit the 2 year mark and parents are being forced to into impossible choices as they try to give emergency care to their children while the community services that had been promised have not been delivered.  The 2014 HSE Service Plan provided for 251 new staff for mental health services; so far only 52 are in place.  Now the Minister is promising 24/7 service – how will this be possible if the staff are not being recruited?

“The constant stream of announcements and plans being announced by the Minister provide a steady and reliable source of newspaper headlines, but do little to address what is a national emergency.  Minister Lynch must now ensure that these essential multi-disciplinary teams are put in place and that all funding which is meant to be ring fenced for these services are not diverted elsewhere within the health service”.

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