Sinn Féin MLA Órlaithí Flynn has welcomed the initial action plan on mental health but warns that the public expect mental health services to be more than a Cinderella service.
The Sinn Féin spokesperson for Mental Health said:
“The inclusion of specialist services is to be welcomed, especially the commitment to develop perinatal mental health services with a decision in autumn.
“This needs to be both community and inpatient services.
“I pressed the Health Minister and the Chief Medical Officer on the need for urgency on this decision at the Health Committee.
“The action plan also included a COVID-19 specific mental health response, Sinn Féin has been pressing hard for the inclusion of this from the start of the lockdown.
“However, the level of funding for additional services remains unclear.
“If mental health is a priority, as previously stated by the Minister, then it needs to be adequately resourced and funded.
“Mental health services, especially those that have been stood down due to COVID-19 surge, are simply inadequate to meet demand.
“If the Health Minister believes that health services cannot return to normal then there must be a focus on ensuring that mental health services including suicide prevention and crisis services are not returned to being a Cinderella service.
“The Department must include local community groups into the co-production of future services, if they are to be suitable and meet the public need.”