January 11, 2021
Honeymoon period for the Minister for Mental Health is over – Mark Ward TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has called for an urgent plan and road map to be developed for access to mental health supports.

This comes following the latest report from the Family Resource Centres which shows a huge increase in demand for mental health services.
Teachta Ward said:
“The honeymoon period for the Minister for Mental Health, Mary Butler TD, is over. We need an urgent plan and road map developed so people can access mental health supports, when and where they need them.
“Since restrictions were first put in place in March of last year, mental health organisations have reported a huge increase in demand for their services. This demand is right across the spectrum of supports, including HSE, non-government organisations, charity and voluntary mental health services.
“Today we have seen a report produced by the Family Resource Centres that show a huge increase in those presenting for mental health supports.
“The survey was carried out online by Family Resource Centres in December and key findings include:
– 94 per cent of respondents reported an increase in demand for mental health supports in 2020.
– The survey identified the main reason for service-users making contact for support was due to feeling isolated. This was followed by anxiety about mental health.
– 99 per cent of staff and volunteers that completed the survey felt that Covid-19 has had a negative effect on the well-being of service users.
– 34 per cent of staff and volunteers that completed the survey have used the Suicide Prevention Code of Practice in the last 12 months for supporting service users.
“This report is indicative of the demands on mental health services throughout this pandemic.
“Community-based mental health services have had to radically change their way of working, shifting from face-to-face interactions to remote consultations. Group-based therapies have been reduced or stopped.
“We have one of the lowest proportions of hospital beds for psychiatric care in the developed world, and bed numbers drop each year.
“Incredulously, amid a pandemic, the funding for mental health services was reduced from 7% of our total healthcare budget to 6%.

“In Britain, France, Germany, Sweden and the Netherlands, they allocate between 10-13% of their overall health budget to mental health provision.”

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