Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD and Sinn Féin TD for Limerick City, Maurice Quinlivan, today called on the government to provide more details about the upcoming pilot ’24/7 Multi-Agency Mental Health Crisis De-Escalation Team’ in Limerick.
The proposed pilot scheme will be made up of mental health professionals, paramedics and specially trained members of the Gardaí.
The Mental Health Crisis De-Escalation Team will be tasked with responding to out-of-hours calls regarding mental health concerns. The team will make contact with the concerned party, triage them and either treat them or refer them to an appropriate service provider.
Teachta Ward said:
“This multi-agency team contains mental health experts, members of An Garda Síochána and a paramedic.
“I first heard about this scheme in a pilot project that was rolled out in parts of Belfast by my Mental Health spokesperson counterpart in the North, Órlaithí Flynn MLA. It was run between the hours of 7pm and 7am on Friday’s and Saturday’s in parts of Belfast for a year.
“The results speak for themselves. The team had 193 referrals in that space of time.
“Of these, 94 referrals were face-to-face crisis de-escalation contacts. Out of these crisis de-escalation contacts, they managed to divert 131 people who would have had to attend emergency departments, which is most welcome.
“This is part of Sinn Féin policy and was part of our alternative budget. It would cost €6.8 million to roll this out across each CHO throughout the State. It is something I’ve been calling for, for sometime now.
“I recently spoke about how the prison system is failing people with mental health issues. This is a way to stop people going into the prison system in the first place. It has to be welcomed.
“Im still looking for clarity on how long this pilot will be run for and if this initiative will be expanded beyond Limerick.”
Teachta Quinlivan added:
“I very much welcome the piloting of this scheme in Limerick. Unfortunately, in Limerick issues regarding mental health have increased over the course of the pandemic.
“The pandemic revealed how under resourced our mental health services are. In Limerick we have seen the CAMHS service be overwhelmed with referrals.
“On many occasions voluntary organisations have stepped up and done an incredible job supporting those in need. While there are many groups, I would like to particularly commend the work of the volunteers at the Haven Hub, Limerick Suicide Watch and Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention.
“The outcome of a failure to treat mental health issues is too often sadly suicide. The sound of a helicopter over the River Shannon is the signal that, tragically, another life has been lost, another family has been devastated by suicide.
“As such, any project or scheme that can alleviate pressure on these organisations while delivering care to those who need it should be welcomed and supported.
“A similar scheme which was trialled in in the north has proven to be quite successful with many people being treated yet diverted from Emergency Department attendance.
“Emergency Department attendance and capacity issues are at crisis point at University Hospital Limerick, so any service that assists a patient whilst diverting them from the hospital is very welcome for Limerick.
“If staffed and funded correctly, this pilot can work. At the moment, if one suffers a mental health crisis outside of office hours, it is very difficult to get support. This scheme could be a game changer in that regard.”