Tuesday, September 21, 2021

Pictured on Monday were (l-r) Rory Fitzgerald, Regional Director, Samaritans; Lyanne O’ Brien, Service User, Shine; Marc Ó Cathasaigh TD; Fiona Coyle, CEO, Mental Health Reform; Jessica Statham, Support and Information Officer, Shine and Matt Shanahan TD taking part in Mental Health Reform’s pre-budget campaign calling on the Government to resource, rebuild, reform Ireland’s mental health services in Budget 2022.
Picture: Leo Murphy

A CAMPAIGN has been launched in Waterford to highlight the need for investment in mental health services in Budget 2022 to address the long-term mental health impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The national coalition for mental health, Mental Health Reform, and its members, including Samaritans and Shine, are calling on the Government to invest €85m in Ireland’s mental health services.

CEO of Mental Health Reform, Fiona Coyle, said: “Covid-19 has had a detrimental impact on people’s mental health and has exposed serious gaps in our mental health system. Thousands more people have come forward to access support during this difficult time.

“The last 18 months have been a hugely challenging period for the mental health sector. Many mental health charities have reported an increase in demand for their services at a time where they have suffered significant losses in fundraising income. Organisations are also faced with the challenge of delivering services remotely to those in need.”

A survey conducted by Mental Health Reform in 2020 shows that 92% of its 77 member organisations agree that mental health services need more resources to deal with the mental health impact of Covid-19.

“Samaritans and Shine provide essential mental health supports to communities in Waterford, from 24/7 helpline services to counselling and recovery training courses. In 2020, Samaritans volunteers answered over 560,000 calls and emails. Without the dedication and hard work of these organisations, many people would have struggled to access the support they needed to cope with the pressures of the pandemic.

“The Government must prioritise funding for community and voluntary organisations in the mental health sector. Investment is urgently needed to ensure that mental health charities can meet the growing demand for support now and in the future,” said Ms Coyle. “Mental health must be placed at the heart of Covid-19 recovery planning. Now is the time to resource, rebuild and reform our mental health services; we cannot go back to a broken system.”

Mental Health Reform is calling for investment in the following areas:

  • Increase spending on mental health from 5.1% to 10% of the total health budget by 2024.
  • Invest €15m in the community and voluntary sector to support the delivery of mental health services, including counselling and psychotherapy.
  • Prioritise the recruitment of primary care psychologists and assistant psychologists to reduce waiting times and divert referrals from specialist services. Invest €2m in national advocacy services for children and adults with mental health difficulties in hospital, prison, residences and in the community.
  • Provide €6.5m for the national expansion of the CAMHS Connect model to improve out of hours crisis intervention mental health services for children and young people.
  • Invest €7.8m in National Clinical Programmes to meet specific mental health needs.
  • Invest in affordable housing for people with mental health disabilities, including €1m to maintain 10 Tenancy Sustainment Officer posts.
  • Invest €5.5m to improve mental health supports in the prison system.
  • Invest in the Individual Placement and Support (IPS) approach to support people with mental health difficulties to achieve sustainable employment.

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