Budget 2022 must prioritise mental health spending for young people

Duncan Smith TD
08 October 2021
  • Labour’s alternative budget provides €85 million for CAHMS and Eating Disorder teams
  • Education campaign needed to end the stigma

In advance of World Mental Health Day this Sunday, Labour health spokesperson Duncan Smith has called on government to set aside targeted funding for children and young people’s mental health in Budget 2022.

Deputy Smith said:

“Ireland currently has one of the highest rates of mental health illness in Europe. One in four people in our society will experience a mental health problem at some point in their lives. Mental health issues have becoming increasingly prevalent amongst our youth with the increased pressures – both online and offline – that they face. Getting young people the help they need as quickly as possible should be a priority for this government. Anxiety surrounding education, employment, the precariousness in housing, is growing and has been exasperated throughout the pandemic.

“There is no shortage of ideas about the areas that need to be resourced in health in the forthcoming budget. If we are serious about mental health funding then we need to adequately and properly fund positive promotional campaigns. We must also fund good services that are proven to work and are responsive to people’s needs.

“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. Earlier this year we know that more than 2,700 children and young people were on waiting lists for CAHMS which is deeply concerning for the families involved. Everyone wants to do their best for their child and protect and support them. Parents need to be supported by the State and treat these children with dignity and respect – the current waiting lists are entirely unacceptable.

“Our services need to be properly resourced to save lives. Labour’s alternative budget proposed new funding for mental health to include a dedicated stream for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) and €4million for the delivery of 16 specialist Eating Disorder teams throughout the country. We know that over 90% of mental health needs can be successfully treated within a Primary Care setting, with less than 10% being referred to specialist community based mental health teams. Assessment, prevention and early-intervention is critical to alleviating health issues and taking pressure off stretched CAMHS services.

“As well as the targeted funding to deliver best in class care for those suffering with their mental health, we would also welcome the introduction of clearer information campaigns targeted at young and old. There is still work to do to educate and end the stigma surrounding mental illness that still exists in Ireland. A survey carried out by Spunout revealed this week that one in three young people feel they can’t recognise the signs of common mental health conditions. We know that people suffering from mental health conditions can benefit from early diagnosis and intervention. Improving the general public’s understanding could have a really beneficial impact too.

“As is the case in many other areas, it is clear that the private system is picking up the slack because the public system is very much failing. This is wrong. If we had a properly resourced public mental health service it is likely that many people would not have to turn to the private system in the first place for the help they deserve as citizens of the State. The absence of a properly resourced public mental health service is currently depriving people of the care they need.”

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