Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has said that the €10 million one-off funding for mental health announced in the budget falls way short of what is needed and is a wasted opportunity.
Deputy Ward has received the internal email from the HSE that was sent to CHO areas and to community groups. The HSE signed off the email with “Please don’t blame the messenger.”
Teachta Ward said:
“I have received the email that was circulated from the HSE in relation to the one-off funding for mental health that was announced in Budget 2022.
“This funding was time-limited, and had to be realised by the end of the year. I said at the time that this would lead to rushed applications and the funding not necessarily going to where it is needed.
“That is exactly what happened. On Monday, Minister Mary Butler announced where the funding will go and it includes a replacement fleet with green or hybrid vehicles in every Community Healthcare Organisation.
“This should not be coming out of a mental health budget but rather a separate budget for climate change initiatives.
“I wrote to the Minister seeking clarification on what vehicles are to be replaced and what purpose they serve.
“The email that was circulated by the HSE also stated that, in addition to vehicles, the funding could be used for equipment costs, including IT, furniture and funding for external agencies
“The submissions also cannot include recurrent costs into 2022.
“The HSE are obviously not happy with the process as it is signed off by a senior official ‘please don’t blame the messenger’.
“I received a copy of this email and application form from a community and voluntary group. This is despite the Minister’s insistence that none of these groups have been contacted yet.
“In fact only €1 million will be distributed to grassroots mental health organisations in local communities nationwide, despite these organisations taking the brunt of the influx of people seeking mental health supports.
“Overall mental health funding in Ireland is way behind international best practice. Currently only 5.4% of the overall health budget is allocated for mental health, despite Sláintecare recommending a minimum of 10% and the WHO a minimum of 14%.
“This is yet again another wasted opportunity to really improve mental health care.”