The Union of Students in Ireland is calling on newly-appointed Minister for Health Simon Harris to reverse the diversion of €12 million from Mental Health Services announced by former Minister for Health Leo Varadkar. USI highlighted the dangers in this diversion this morning, Monday the 9th May, at 10am outside Leinster House.
“Over 120,000 people took part in the Pieta House’s Darkness into Light walks last Saturday.” USI President, Kevin Donoghue, said. “The annually increasing numbers of people who come out in the early hours of the morning to support Pieta House’s Darkness into Light reflects how Irish people want mental health to be prioritised. The government needs to prioritise mental health too. This diversion of funds will cost lives. It sends the message that mental health services can wait for funding, but it does not match the reality of the demand. It is an urgent problem at crisis point, requiring urgent action.”
USI is calling on Simon Harris to reverse the diversion of the €12 million which was ring-fenced for Mental Health in the 2016 budget. According to a HRB report, 1 in 7 adults in Ireland experienced a mental health difficulty in the last year. 19.5% of young adults aged 19-24 have had a mental health disorder and 75% of mental health difficulties arise before the age of 25, according to an RCSI study on mental health of young people in Ireland.
“The lack of resources for and commitment to Mental Health services in Ireland means that even though we have a strategic plan, little progress is being made and A Vision for Change is suffering as a result.” Donoghue said. “Funding was ring-fenced and was promised to help relieve the demand on mental health workers who are being pushed to their limit. The mental health sector is already understaffed and under-resourced. This diversion is hugely regressive and in dire need of urgent action.”
Donoghue has written to Enda Kenny, Micháel Martin and Simon Harris requesting an urgent meeting to discuss the diversion of ring-fenced funding, the current situation regarding mental health services in Ireland and future plans to improve access to these services.