Here’s what the Our state of mind General Election campaign recommended the next Government do for mental health. Watch this space for our analysis of the new Government’s Programme for Government.
1. A nationwide school programme to build good mental health. Because most mental health difficulties begin in childhood. If we give our children the knowledge and tools to look after their mental health, we will build their resilience and greatly reduce the amount of distress later in their lives.
2. Access to 24/7 crisis supports. Mental health services are still not providing 24/7 crisis intervention services as the norm in all areas. People in a mental health crisis are still sitting through lengthy waits in busy A&E Departments, sometimes 8 hours or more, before getting support. Ireland continues to have a high rate of suicide, so why is this gap in crisis services allowed to persist?
3. Easy access to counselling. Counselling and talk therapies can often be effective for mild to moderate mental health difficulties. But these therapies are vastly under-resourced in Ireland. Why isn’t access to counselling prioritised to prevent mental health difficulties from escalating into disabling conditions?
4. A right to advocacy support. Currently there is no legal right to an advocate to support people with a mental health difficulty in mental health services and to help them get access to health services, housing, employment advice or welfare benefits. After a mental health crisis, people need help to get back their life in the community.
5. Advance healthcare directives. Every person should have the right to make choices about their own mental health treatment. These choices should be based on their own wishes and preferences. Without access to advance healthcare directives, people with mental health difficulties are being forced to undergo treatment they don’t want, even when they are capable of making a decision.