Vision for 24/7 access to mental health support outlined

It comes following a petition from several support groups

Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee TD said that out-of=hours access to mental health services is a priority in 2017.

The Minister received a petition of 12,000 from Shari McDaid on behalf of several mental health groups campaigning for reform, including Mental Health Reform and A Lust for Life at Leinster House. The petition calls for the delivery of holistic, 24/7 community based crisis mental health services across Ireland.

Minister McEntee said that improving access to mental health services is "a key priority" for her as a Minister. However, she stressed a need for patience, saying "we must walk before we can run".

"Anyone who needs help should be able to get it", she said. "We need to ensure that 7-day access is in place, across the country, before we move towards the provision of 24/7 access."

Minister McEntee concluded that "specific actions" are in place around several of the issues raised in the petition as she works on a "roadmap" to achieve 24/7 access to services with the Department of Health and the Health Service Executive (HSE).

Budget 2017

The Government's Budget allocations for 2017 can be broken down as follows:

  • The total non-capital budget for mental health services in 2017 is €851.3 million
  • €50 million in capital spending has also been committed to starting construction on the National Forensic Mental Health Hospital
  • Additional spending on mental health services is €20 million lower than had been expected, based on comments made by Minister of State Helen McEntee on Budget Day

"An already desperate situation"

Prior to the Budget, the Union of Students in Ireland and Mental Health Reform called on the government to “clarify their commitment” to providing €37.5m in the budget for mental health care.

 

"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", Mental Health Reform Director, Dr Shari McDaid said.

USI president Annie Hoey said people who are suffering with mental health issues should not be forced to go to the gardaí or Emergency Department for help.

"The delay to access to proper mental health services deepens the damages of mental illness," she said.

Anyone who may be experiencing suicidal ideation to contact their GP or attend the nearest emergency department immediately, or avail of the 24 hour Samaritan phone line service on 116 123.