Ring-fenced funding for mental health must be paid back

24 May 2016

Speaking in Dáil Debate on Mental Health

The €12 million taken from the Mental Health budget this year, so hard and bravely fought for by former Minister of State Kathleen Lynch, cannot be allowed to fall into the black hole of the general Health budget.

That amount will be a comparatively minuscule contribution to the overall spend on Health but it will be an enormous loss to those whose mental health is fragile.

Why? Because since the start of ring-fencing money for developing mental health services in 2012, under Kathleen Lynch’s passionate and determined stewardship, the money has been used to fund:  

*support for community organisations working on suicide prevention

*education of GP’s on suicide prevention

*a primary care counselling service

*access to psychology and psychotherapy services

*extra beds for the Child and Adolescent Mental  Health Service

*clinical nurse specialists to respond to those who present with self-harm in Emergency Departments

*a national clinical programme for Eating Disorders

*Training in Behaviour Family Theraphy to members of Community Mental Health Teams.

*the roll-out of Jigsaw to Dublin (2), Cork (2) and Limerick (1) bringing this young-person friendly services to 3 more cities

It is simply unacceptable that this progress in such a crucial area of the Health services, should now be halted.  I am asking, to-day, for a commitment from the Minister that the money allocated for 2016 will be restored.

€5 million of the €12 million was to be used to recruit up to 100 psychologists and councillors to develop psychological services for under 18’s. Will that not be delivered?   There is such an acute  need for accessible mental health services for young people that cannot be ignored.

The signal that is being sent to troubled young people is that their needs are not important. The scant reference to Mental Health in the Programme for Government re-enforces that message.

This approach must be reversed and I urge the Minister to restore the funding and build on the progress made in this long-neglected area of our Health Services

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