Mental Health Reform, the national coalition promoting improved mental health services, has today (19/12/2014) welcomed the publication of the HSE Mental Health Division’s Operational Plan for 2015, saying that the plan shows that the HSE has listened to some of the concerns raised by people who use mental health services and their family members/carers.
Dr Shari McDaid, Director of Mental Health Reform, commented: “In its Operational Plan, the HSE Mental Health Division has made a clear commitment to address a number of gaps in services that Mental Health Reform, our members and supporters have highlighted in recent years.”
Dr McDaid continued: “We repeatedly hear from people at our public meetings that the difficulty in accessing 24/7 crisis supports exacerbates the mental or emotional distress a person is experiencing. Having to access out-of-hours mental health services through A&E is inappropriate. It is therefore a welcome step that the HSE Plan commits to extending weekend cover to identified patients within the mental health service from 11am to 7pm, Saturday and Sunday across the country. This, along with the commitment to build capacity within emergency departments for a 24/7 response to people in a crisis, will make it easier for people to get support when they need it.”
Dr McDaid added: “A cornerstone of a recovery-orientated mental health service is the involvement of people who use the service, and their family members/carers. The commitment to increase service user, family and carer involvement in adult mental health service planning is a welcome development. The introduction of peer support workers in mental health services will also send out a powerful message of recovery to those experiencing mental health difficulties.”
“We welcome the commitment to reduce admissions of children and adolescents to adult wards, which is long overdue. However, it must be remembered that the mental health service workforce is currently at about 75% of what is recommended by the national mental health policy A Vision for Change, with approximately 9,000 Whole Time Equivalents (WTEs) in place out of a recommended 12,240 WTEs. While the Mental Health Division Operational Plan undertakes to improve the recruitment and retention of staff, the Government needs to look at the incentive package to encourage professionals to join and stay in the HSE, so that these plans can be fulfilled”, concluded Dr McDaid.