Mental Health Reform has today presented Minister for Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch TD, with 6,000 signatures from its petition to fight for mental health in next week’s budget.
The petition urges the Government to not cut mental health spending any further and to keep staffing at the levels in place at the start of 2011. Mental health has been affected worse than other areas in the health service due to the fact that mental health nurses can retire earlier than other professions but cannot be replaced by multi-disciplinary staff because of the public sector recruitment freeze.
Irish mental health services are severely under-resourced at a time when more and more people are struggling with changed financial circumstances and seeking help. Ireland is nearly 30 years behind international good practice and will slip further if this budget fails to protect mental health funding.
The petition comes in the wave of a recent announcement by Minister for Health, Dr. James Reilly that he is contemplating going back on the Government’s promise of investing €35 million to develop much needed community mental health services. Mental Health Reform is warning that the system will collapse if this money is not invested.
‘To move implementation of Government policy for mental health on we need the Minister to hold staffing levels at the level that was in place at the start of this year; we need a Directorate for Mental Health Services and we need €35million annually for the next three years ring-fenced for the development of community mental health services”, Mental Health Reform Director Orla Barry said.
“The 6,000 people who signed this petition are not asking for much in financial terms, but if this Government fails to protect mental health in next week’s budget, then the mental health services will collapse and Government policy will fail”, Ms Barry concluded.