December 4, 2020
Government must meet the unmet needs of older persons mental health provision – Mark Ward TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has said that Ireland is heading for a “mental health tsunami for older people”, with existing services for the elderly “under resourced, inadequate and not connected with each other”.

Speaking after a publication of a report “Mental Health Services for Older Persons” by the Mental Health Commission, Teachta Ward said:

“I welcome the report  published this morning by Dr Susan Finnerty of the Mental Health Commission, as it is a road map for the provision of comprehensive mental health services for the elderly.

“Ireland is heading for a mental health tsunami for older people with existing services for the elderly under resourced, inadequate and not integrated with each other.

“Dr Susan Finnerty, also describes Covid-19 as a ‘perfect storm’ in which elderly people already failed by existing healthcare services now face more risks from the disease.

“The report highlights population projections showing that the number of people aged 65 years and over will increase from 629,800 in 2016, to almost 1.6 million by 2051, which in turn will lead to increased pressure on the health system.

“About 15% of adults aged 60 and above suffer from a mental illness, and physical illness is also more common.

“I attended the meeting of the Children, Disability, Equality and Integration Committee this week and listened as the Children’s Ombudsman stated that the state is failing children by not meeting their needs.

“Today this report talks about the unmet needs of older people.

“Older people’s mental health does not get the attention it deserves. The levels of unmet mental health needs amongst older people are extremely high and improving current services is necessary.

“From the cradle to the grave the state is failing its citizens when it comes to mental health provision.

“There are a number of recommendations in this report that highlight the need for services for older people to be more integrated, properly resourced, staffed and to be older person specific.

“I will be raising these issues and more directly with the Minister for Mental Health on the floor of the Dáil next week.”

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