Amnesty International Ireland and the Irish Mental Health Coalition (IMHC) jointly welcome the recognition by the Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD and Minister for Mental Health and Disability, John Moloney, of the importance of continued mental health reform.
Minister Harney said yesterday, “In the case of disability and mental health I am particularly anxious that the momentum underway to reform and modernise service delivery is supported. This is the basis on which the HSE has been asked to prioritise these areas.”
Orla Barry, Director of the Irish Mental Health Coalition, said “In light of the overall austerity of Budget 2011, we are heartened that the cut to the mental health budget is just 1.8 per cent. We do however, seek assurance from the HSE that this cut will be applied to the figure in Budget 2010 and not the actual spend this year. This is because the HSE staff moratorium hit mental health services disproportionately and meant this year’s spend was far lower than budgeted. Mental health represents 9 per cent of the HSE work force and yet accounted for a staggering 50 per cent of posts lost.
“The IMHC welcomes Minister Harney’s commitment to the continuing reform of mental health services. To achieve this the HSE must now redress the loss of mental health posts and proceed with developing multidisciplinary community mental health teams. The IMHC views the wider community and voluntary sector as an asset to the HSE in providing much needed supports such as housing, day services and advocacy.
“In 2011 the staff moratorium must be applied proportionately. The personal contact of skilled professionals and peer support workers is absolutely central to mental health services. Mental health must lose no more than 9 per cent of the total proposed cuts of 1,500 posts in health staffing in 2011.”
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland, also welcomed the Budget statement. “We are encouraged by the two Ministers’ special consideration of mental health and their commitment to continued mental health reform.
“Even more so in times of economic difficulties, clear accountability and an efficient programme of reform must be central to the delivery of mental health policy.
“A Vision for Change clearly sets out what needs to be done to achieve mental health reform. We welcome the HSE’s recent completion of the new 20-bed child and adolescent unit in Galway and replacement of outdated facilities at St Brendan’s with the opening of the modern Pine Ward at Connolly Hospital, Blanchardstown, as indications of their commitment to putting this progressive policy into action.”
Mr O’Gorman added: “As part of our Warning: Serious Health Risk campaign, more than 8,000 emails were sent from individuals across the country asking An Taoiseach and Government Ministers not to cut mental health in Budget 2011. This clearly shows just how important this issue is for people in Ireland and that political will on mental health does exist.”
Note to editors
Amnesty International Ireland and the Irish Mental Health Coalition joined forces with more than 90 organisations and individuals in support of the campaign to protect the mental health budget from further cuts in Budget 2011. More than 8,000 emails have been sent by members of the public to an Taoiseach, Brian Cowen TD, the Minister for Health and Children, Mary Harney TD, the Minister for Finance, Brian Lenihan TD and the Minister with Responsibility for Mental Health, John Moloney TD. For more see www.healthrisk.ie.