More early intervention needed in our mental health services

20 June 2017

Following the publication of the Unicef Building the Future report, Labour spokesperson on Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch, has called on the Government to put more resources into early intervention programmes in our mental health services.

“As a community it is essential we take care of the mental health needs of our young people. Most mental health problems begin when we are young. That’s why early intervention and support is essential if we are to give our young people the best possible start in life.

“The Unicef Building the Future report estimates that one in 10,000 15 to 19 year olds will die of suicide. We need to ensure that strategies are in place in communities across the country to tackle mental health issues at their early stages.

“When Labour ensured money was ring-fenced for mental health we also doubled the budget for the National Office of Suicide Prevention to support community organisations. We ensured money was used to educate GPs on suicide prevention, to fund a primary care counselling service, to facilitate access to psychology and psychotherapy services, to make additional beds available for child and adolescent mental health services, to employ clinical nurse specialists to respond to those who present with self-harm in accident and emergency departments, to finance the national clinical programme for eating disorders, which is an area that had been neglected, to provide training in behavioural family therapy and to provide for the roll-out of Jigsaw.

“Jigsaw is a good example of a service that is welcoming and accessible to young people in particular. I think it is an example of the way we need to go. This week we have seen the opening of Jigsaw services in Cork and Limerick, which Labour funded whilst we were in Government. We need to continue the roll out of this service.

“When I speak to young people, they tell me they want to be able to access a service that is open to them. They do not necessarily need psychiatry. In many cases, they need other models like counselling. It strikes me, based on the research that has been done on young people who present to the mental health services, that they often require this kind of service rather than the traditional kind of service that was made available in the past.

“Many community organisations throughout the country are doing great community support work to bring mental health services out to people in the community and to let people know what is available but the Government must do more to ensure that young people have access to mental health services when and where they need them.”

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