March 16, 2021
Emergency investment essential to meet Tsunami of mental health need – Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin president Mary Lou McDonald TD has today called for additional government funding to meet what she described as a ‘Tsunami of mental health need’ as a result of the Covid-19 crisis.

Launching Sinn Féin’s plan to tackle the mental health emergency, Sinn Féin’s plan to tackle the mental health emergency, Ms McDonald said that community and voluntary services the length and breadth of the country are now overwhelmed by the increase in adults and children seeking mental health care.

Teachta McDonald said:

“Over the last number of weeks, we have hosted a series of meetings with mental health organisations and community frontline services who outlined to us in stark detail why additional investment is needed to provide the care increasing numbers of people need urgently.

“The reality is Covid-19 has pushed what was a mental health crisis to an emergency. Unprecedented pressures on mental health services are set against years of underinvestment waiting lists for mental services within the public system.  

“We have seen an increase in depression, isolation, loneliness and anxiety – all the ingredients for a Tsunami in mental health need.

“In response to these engagements, Sinn Féin Mental Health Spokesperson Mark Ward TD has produced a plan that could deliver significant emergency investment of €60m in mental health care for a six to 12-month period through the provision of surge capacity delivered by private practitioners providing urgent and immediate care.

“This emergency provision would address waiting lists and meet immediate demand through private care whilst giving the public system the breathing space it needs to increase capacity for the long term through the recruitment of additional psychologists and therapists into the public system.

“Sinn Féin’s plan also provides for the establishment of a 24/7 crisis ambulance and the introduction of universal access to counselling services through the HSE’s primary care network.

“Community and voluntary mental health and frontline services sounded the alarm months ago on the impact the pandemic is having on mental health, and that a meaningful and innovative intervention is needed by government to provide the care urgently needed.

“Government funding of mental health is, as it has always been, woefully underfunded when compared to other European countries.

“It is clear that the additional €10 million allocated to the area of Mental Health in the government’s Covid-19 Resilience and Recovery 2021 Plan falls far short of what is needed while the HSE Service Plan for 2021 commits to a paltry increase in counselling hours that will not even scratch the surface of unmet need. 

“This is why we need emergency investment in mental health. Those in crisis cannot wait. Now, more than ever, they need immediate support and services to weather the storm.”

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