May 31, 2021
Additional third level places needed to increase supply of skilled mental health staff – Pauline Tully TD

Cavan-Monaghan TD Pauline Tully has called for an increase in places available for those studying for a mental health qualification.

Teachta Tully said:

“I have called on the Minister for Further and Higher Education to increase the number of places available in third level institutions for people studying for a mental health qualification.

“This comes on the back of a reply I received to a recent parliamentary question regarding access to services for persons with eating disorders, which was extremely worrying.

“The reply pointed out that the HSE had developed an approved model of care for eating disorders which was launched 2018.

“This also stated that this was supposed to consist of eight adult and eight child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) teams.

“And that funding of €5.7 million has been made available to the HSE for the establishment of these teams.

“However, to date, only €1.77 million has been invested in Eating Disorder Specialist Posts and only three teams have commenced recruitment and are delivering a service.

“Two CAMHS and one adult.

“While there has been a significant budget of €5.7million allocated only €1.77 million has so far been invested.

“The reason for this shortfall, indicated in the reply, is that ‘the availability of skilled staff is a significant issue in mental health services where demand outstrips supply’.

“Allocating funds is useless if there is no availability of trained personnel. 

“This is a matter that should be actioned immediately to try to get the number of trained clinicians needed.

“We need a sufficient number of people qualifying with a mental health qualification to fill these posts.

“The number of places available in third level institutions for people studying for a mental health qualification needs to be increased in line with demand.

“It is recognised that most people can, and do, recover from eating disorders and the most effective treatment is in the community.

“Some 200,000 people in Ireland are affected by an eating disorder at any one time, more females than males, and there are some 400 new cases a year, which is quite substantial. 

“If people are given the care, support and intervention they need early, it will avoid them becoming chronic cases. 

“Some 6% of chronic cases die. 

“While the numbers might be low, these are deaths that could be very easily avoided.

“The establishment of these specialist regional teams needs to be a priority, and therefore the increase in trained mental health staff also needs to be a priority.”

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