Sinn Féin spokesperson for Mental Health Mark Ward TD has called for the €20 million announced by an Taoiseach to fund mental health and community groups, to be made available immediately.
Teachta Ward has called for clarity on when this fund will be released and who will benefit from it.
Teachta Ward said:
“We have been here before with this Government. Big announcements made about mental health supports – announcements with very little substance.
“In February, the Taoiseach announced that €10 million in funding will be made available to meet the increased demand for mental health supports.
“An additional allocation of €10 million was also announced for the Covid Stability Fund for organisations in the community and voluntary sector, to enable continuity of critical service delivery to vulnerable groups.
“Over the last number of months, I have met with representatives from front line mental health and community services who are working over their capacity to meet the emerging needs within our communities. This is not sustainable, and they need support.
“Based on previous announcements I have no confidence that the money announced by the Taoiseach will reach the groups that really need it.
“This fund was announced by the Taoiseach in February, but on the 24th March, Minister Mary Butler said she was still scoping out various options with her Department.
“I submitted a Parliamentary Question on the 24th February asking what exactly the €20 million fund will be spent on. I have not received a response to date.
“Only this week it was reported that the Samaritans have listened for almost 73,000 hours since lockdown began.
“Aware recorded a 36% rise in calls in 2020. Alone reported an increase in a wide range of mental health impacts among older people.
“Spun Out receive 5,000 texts a month from people aged 16 to 34, with issues including anxiety, depression and suicidal thoughts.
“Bodywhys, the national group supporting people with eating disorders, has reported a 150% increase in people accessing its online support . Almost 6,000 people nationwide are waiting over a year to see a psychologist – most of them are children.
“These waiting lists were bad before the pandemic, now they’re pushing already-stretched services to breaking point.
“We have gone from a mental health crisis to a mental health emergency under this Government, and services need to know when this fund will be released and who will benefit from it.”