Seven years to the day after the publication of the mental health policy A Vision for Change (AVFC), Mental Health Reform calls on the Government to prioritise its implementation.
Orla Barry, Director of Mental Health Reform, commented: “It is striking that, despite the Government’s stated commitment to developing community mental health services, the years since the publication ofA Vision for Change in 2006 have seen the proportion of spending on mental health services decrease from 7.2% to 5.3% of the overall health budget. According to the HSE’s Health Service Personnel Census for December 2012, mental health staffing levels dropped by 12.1% between 2009 and 2012. This overall reduction in staffing levels further hampers efforts to achieve A Vision for Change and denies people the range of supports they need.”
Ms. Barry continued: “People want to have a consistent relationship with a professional, to be listened to and to receive an offer of treatment that doesn’t focus exclusively on medication. All of this requires skilled staffing. We welcome the commitment by Government to appoint a range of multidisciplinary staff for community mental health services. We need to see these appointments happen without further delay – including the 414 staff who were supposed to be appointed in 2012, alongside the further 477 staff promised for this year.”
“We welcome the fact that the HSE is now advertising for the position of Director of Mental Health, a post that will report directly to the Director General of the HSE and be part of the senior management team. The new Director needs to hold budgetary control and, at the earliest opportunity, to develop an implementation plan setting out deliverables, timelines and who is responsible.”
“As we mark the anniversary of A Vision for Change, we urge the Government to prioritise the community mental health services so badly needed all across the country. It is not a case of whether we can afford to keep investing in our community mental health services, but rather, whether we can afford not to”, Ms. Barry concluded.