The Union of Students in Ireland and Mental Health Reform have made a joint plea to the government and Fianna Fáil to clarify their commitment to providing €37.5 million in the budget for mental health services, which is needed to fully implement the steps for a robust mental health system in Ireland, according to A Vision for Change.
At the mental health debate, which took place last Wednesday in the Dáil, independent politicians and speakers from every party spoke about the importance of setting up nationwide 24/7 intervention services to reduce the number of deaths by suicide in Ireland – which is higher than the number of road deaths.
“We cannot continue the routine of people going to A&E or to the gardaí for help.” USI President, Annie Hoey, said. “The delay to access to proper mental health services deepens the damages of mental illness. The Irish health system has a complete and utter inability to help patients of dual diagnosis. Oftentimes those who are suffering from addiction also have mental health difficulties. Without proper treatment, mental illness can rapidly deteriorate with devastating consequences. The most obvious solution for progression in the field of mental health services is substantial cross-party commitment on immediately setting up 24/7 intervention services nationwide – and we are urging the government to clarify their commitment to providing the funding for these services in Budget 2017.”
Mental Health Reform said full implementation of A Vision for Change requires investment of €37.5M per year.
“The Government committed to meeting the recommendations in this policy and we are seeking clarification now as to whether this will be realised in next year’s budget.” Mental Health Reform Director, Dr. Shari McDaid, said. “In addition, in light of the commitment in the Confidence and Supply Arrangement between Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael, we are calling on Fianna Fáil to ensure that its budget commitment from the Government reflects the agreement to implement A Vision for Change within a full term of Government. In the context of a 48% shortage in child and adolescent mental health service staff and lack of 24/7 mental health services across the country, full implementation cannot wait any longer.”