Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward has supported calls from leading mental health charities for greater mental health supports after the Covid-19 pandemic.
Samaritans Ireland and Alone have stated that Covid-19 has exacerbated people’s fears and anxiety
Teachta Ward said:
“We can have no half measures when it comes to mental health. The onset of the Covid-19 pandemic has only increased pressures on already under resourced mental health services.
“Samaritans Ireland and Alone have stated that there is going to be a huge demand post-pandemic for mental health, poverty relief, homelessness and disability support. This demand is right across the spectrum. Our community based mental health and addiction services who were already bursting at the seams pre-Covid are now seeing an unprecedented demand on their services.
“We need a fully integrated mental health service that provides people with the care they need when they need it right across the continuum of care, starting with prevention and early intervention.
“The challenge is on the new Minister for Mental Health to put into effect a comprehensive person-centred, holistic, community mental health service. The previous government produced a 10-year mental health strategy in June called ‘Sharing the Vision’.
“This was not costed and unless there is political will to implement the findings in the report then it will not be worth the paper that it is written on.
“I have written to the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler asking how she is going to implement the recommendations of ‘Sharing the Vision’ over the next 5 years. I have also asked her to include costings, key objectives and expected outcomes. I am waiting on a response.
“Over the years too many people have fallen through the cracks of mental health services. The fear is that, post-Covid, these gaps will become wider and more people will be left without the services that they desperately need.
“For far too long mental health services have played second fiddle to physical health. We need a parity of esteem, where Mental Health and Physical Health are giving equal treatment.
“As highlighted today by Samaritans Ireland and Alone, we are on the verge of a mental health tsunami post-Covid-19 with existing mental health services inundated with calls for help. The new Minister needs to put in provisions to meet this expected demand.
“Covid by its very nature has increased people’s anxiety and worry. Older people have had to cocoon and have felt isolated.
“Our young people were left unclear for way too long on the leaving certificate examinations. They are missing school, their friends, their sports and other important social structures.
“Some young people and adults are witnessing and experiencing an increased level of domestic violence at home, they have no safe place to go to. People have lost loved ones. Have not been able to attend the funeral and grieve properly due to the current restrictions.
“Some People have experienced financial uncertainty and job insecurity. People have lost businesses. People are behind on rent and mortgage payments. People are worried about childcare.
“Time will tell whether this Government will have the political will to implement real changes in how mental health services are provided. Unless there is a parity of esteem and an increased budget for mental health ,I’m afraid documents like a ‘Sharing the Vision’ will just become a dust collector.”