Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD will bring forward “The Mental Health Parity of Esteem Bill” in the Dáil today.
This piece of legislation will put mental health treatment at the same level of importance as physical health.
Speaking today, Teachta Ward said: “For too long, mental health has been the Cinderella of the health services. Years of neglect, underinvestment and a lack of political will has led to systemic failures in our mental health system.
“Experts at the Covid committee described the mental health services as being out of date and not fit for purpose.
“Access to counselling can often be a barrier to people obtaining the appropriate mental health supports.
“Sinn Féin in government would introduce universal free counselling on GP referral.
“Our alternative budget also provides an increase in investment in 24/7 crisis intervention services.
“These are just two of the changes that we would make in mental health provision, and these would go some way to ensure the parity of esteem between mental and physical health.
“In the upcoming budget, the government has an opportunity and a responsibility to address the underfunding of mental health services.
“Budget 2021 must move towards parity of esteem for mental health provision.
“This piece of legislation aims to compel a change in attitudes towards mental health at the highest level of policy making and governance.
“The effective integration of mental health services with physical health services is particularly important.
“The relationship between physical and mental health is such that poor mental health is linked with a higher risk of physical health problems, and vice versa.
“This bill will place a duty on the Minister for Health to promote health parity, and to ensure all organisations within our health system meet parity obligations in relation to mental health.
“The Mental Health Parity of Esteem Bill aims to offer hope for better mental health care by ensuring that vulnerable persons with mental illness are cared for efficiently, when needed, and on parity of esteem with physical health.”