Sinn Féin spokesperson for Mental Health Mark Ward TD has called on the Government to produce a fully resourced roadmap for mental health provision.
His calls come on the back of the impending announcement on restrictions by the government and as a result of two parliamentary question responses that show a drop in actual funding for mental health provision.
Teachta Ward said:
“Later today the government will make yet another announcement on restrictions during the pandemic. The government need to realise that this is not a show, but it is real life.
“We have already seen leaked trailers and false storylines prior to the premier of the announcement. This ad hoc, mixed messaging and kite-flying approach is having a detrimental impact on people’s mental wellbeing.
“In addition to a clear and concise announcement I am again calling on the government to produce a fully resourced road map for mental health provision. One that puts resources in place to deal with the immediacy of this emergency alongside long term measures that will take us out of this crisis.
“The time for talk is over. Talk is cheap and action is needed. The public do not want pats on the back and platitudes saying that their mental health is being minded when the reality is different.
“I received two responses to parliamentary questions that show how low mental health is on the government’s agenda.
“The percentage of funding in the health budget has decreased from 6.7% in 2018 to 5.2% in 2020. This is despite Slaintecare recommending 10%.
“Additionally, the government allocated €35 million each year from 2016 to 2019 for additional funding for its Programme of Government.
“Shockingly amid a mental health emergency this government reduced its Programme for Government allocation for mental health to €13 million. This is inexcusable.
“I am calling on the government to immediately use some of the surge capacity in private hospitals for mental health. Create 24/7 emergency access to mental health supports. Arrange free universal counselling on GP referral.
“Alongside these measures provisions need to be put in place for systemic long-term change in how mental health services are provided for in this state.”