Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has called for clarity on when the pilot project for a mental health crisis de-escalation will be in operation in Limerick.
Deputy Ward was speaking after a response to a parliamentary question received by Sinn Féin TD for Limerick, Maurice Quinlivan, gave uncertainty on the pilot’s timelines.
Teachta Ward said:
“Last year, the then Minister for Justice, Helen McEntee TD, reported to me that the crisis de-escalation team would be in operation in Limerick in late 2022.
“My Sinn Féin colleague and Limerick TD, Maurice Quinlivan, received a response from the Department for Justice that the pilot will now not be operational until late 2023.
“This delay of such a vital project is disappointing, our communities are in need of such crisis de-escalation teams.
“This team will call to a person experiencing a mental health issue in our community. This specially trained team will meet the person, triage them, treat them and refer or bring them to the appropriate service.
“This multi-agency team contains mental health experts, members of An Garda Síochána and a paramedic.
“A pilot that was rolled out in Belfast was run between the hours of 7pm and 7am on a Friday and Saturday in parts of the city for a year.
“The results speak for themselves. The team had 193 referrals in that space of time. Of these, 94 referrals were face-to-face crisis de-escalation contacts.
“Out of these crisis de-escalation contacts, they managed to divert 131 people who would have had to attend emergency departments, which is most welcome. It took the pressure off an already-under strain hospital system.
“It also diverted 61 people from the judicial system, who, on another day, could have found themselves being charged, despite the fact that they were mentally unwell, because they may or may not have broken the law. This crisis de-escalation team was able to meet, treat and triage them in the community and refer them to the appropriate services.
“It is vital that this service is prioritised so that pressure can be taken off our already crowded emergency departments and to deliver care that is appropriate for the individual, within their community.
“We cannot have further stagnation of this and must see action to bring this into operation by the Minister for Justice as soon as possible.”