Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has called the government’s Covid 19 recruitment scheme Be on Call for Ireland a gimmick when it comes to mental health.
This was on foot of a response to a parliamentary question he submitted that disclosed that despite 100 counsellors applying to the scheme, not one was recruited.
Teachta Ward, who was one of the 100 applicants, said: “When Be on Call for Ireland was launched in April, I, like many, signed up to offer my professional services. I applied to volunteer my time as a counsellor.
“Having worked for years in frontline services working with vulnerable people, my experience and the experience of other counsellors have been ignored.
“Since April, I received a couple of holding emails but no offers. Last month, however, I received an offer to interview to become a community testing swabber.
“Testing positions are needed and are vital but should have been in place months ago, so that we could reach the maximum testing capacity.
“As someone who has met with mental health experts on a regular basis, I am aware of the pressure that Covid-19 has already put on our existing mental health services.
“The 100 counsellors that applied for Be on Call for Ireland could have been used to help with the oncoming tsunami of mental health issues.
“The response I received from the parliamentary question stated at the time of project launch, the widest possible scope of potential applicants were given an opportunity to apply to meet the potentially unprecedented service and social care demands.
“At that time, it was not understood how Covid-19 would impact the delivery of health and social care in Ireland, including that of counselling services.
“But you would have to be living under a rock not to be aware of the impact that Covid 19 has had on people’s mental health and the services available to help them.
“The fact is that counsellors did not even get an interview to check our professional credentials and how we may best assist during Covid. This is disrespectful to those that applied, and it is just another gimmick by the government to grab some cheap headlines.”