Mental Health Reform dismayed at Government reversal of budget commitment
Mental Health Reform has today expressed dismay at the Government’s rapid reversal of its Budget commitment to investment of €35M in 2017 for improvements in mental health services.
Speaking in response to an answer made by Minister of State Helen McEntee in the Dáil to a question put by Fianna Fail mental health spokesperson James Browne, TD, the Director of Mental Health Reform, Shari McDaid, said, “I am shocked to hear that there is scope for just €15M of additional spending for improvements in mental health care for 2017, given the overstretched and under-resourced state of our mental health system. This would represent only a 1.8% increase in funding for mental health compared to the 2016 budget, much less than the 7.4% increase in revenue spending for the health budget as a whole. Mental health has not been shown parity of esteem, much less the priority it needs by this Government.”
“We are seeking an urgent review of this Government decision to allow just 1.8% in additional spending in 2017 for mental health care improvements. Staffing levels in child and adolescent mental health services are 48% below recommended levels, while across the mental health services staffing is 21% lower than recommended. Mental health services have not recovered from the economic crisis and are still almost 1,000 staff below the level in 2008,” continued Dr. McDaid.
“More and more people of all ages are seeking support to recover from a mental health difficulty; more than 2,000 children and adolescents were waiting for a first appointment for mental health services in July of which 10% or 200 were waiting more than 12 months. Clearly more resources are needed at the coal face and a 1.8% increase is wholly inadequate to respond to this need. Notwithstanding the announced once-off funding for the new forensic mental health facility, we are asking the Government to allow the HSE to spend a full €35M on improvements to mental health care next year,” concluded Dr. McDaid.”