Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne has called on the Health Minister to publish the refreshed version of A Vision for Change.

The mental health roadmap, was first published in 2006, but the majority of its recommendations are still outstanding.

Deputy Browne said, “Minister Harris has acknowledged that the refreshed version of the Vision for Change strategy is ready for publication, but we are still waiting to see what’s in it. This document has never been more important as we plan to deal with the fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, particularly on our mental health.

“This is an extremely challenging time for people. Fear, loneliness and isolation are all heightened at the moment, and our healthcare and frontline workers are dealing with a new and frightening reality. Our mental health services need to be properly resourced to cope with the increase in demand that is already emerging.

“I have called for the establishment of a Mental Health Taskforce, which the Minister has agreed to. However, I am still awaiting a progress report from Minister Harris on this.

“Likewise, the refreshed Vision for Change strategy needs to be published. Mental health organisations and political parties will need time to examine it, and I believe it should to be fed into the current Programme for Government negotiations.

“Fourteen years have passed since the original Vision for Change was launched. It was a ten-year plan, which to date, has still not been fully implemented. We cannot wait another fourteen years to bring our mental health services in line with what’s needed.

“This pandemic should act as a catalyst to ensure that mental health is properly prioritised. Lip service is no longer acceptable. We are on the brink of a very serious mental health crisis and we cannot continue to delay in taking action. We need to be putting the resources, staff and measures in place now to ensure that our system can cope with the demands being placed on it, now and in the years to come”.