Mental Health Reform has called for the urgent appointment of a Director for Mental Health and hiring of the multi-disciplinary staff promised in December’s budget to avoid a complete crisis in the mental health services.
While it welcomed the €35m or 414 staff investment in mental health services in the community, the group warned that the number of mental health posts was already down 12% at the end of 2011 compared to 2008. Even with the new 414 staff the overall level of staffing in the mental health services will be 8% lower than in 2008. This is before taking into account any retirements in 2012, which mean it will likely be even more.
“We are moving in the wrong direction. Staffing figures should be going up year on year in mental health to reflect implementation of A Vision for Change. Instead we are 20% short of the recommended staffing in the Government’s mental health policy”, said Orla Barry, Director of Mental Health Reform.
“This Government has clearly prioritised mental health services. Its good intentions need to be followed through by the HSE. This can only be done through the urgent appointment of a Director for Mental Health with budgetary control”, she continued.
“Retiring staff must be replaced with a mix of staff from all disciplines to ensure that people who use the mental health services get the services they require for them to recover within their community”, Ms Barry concluded.
NOTES TO THE EDITOR
A Vision for Change is the Government policy for mental health. It was first published in 2006 with an implementation target of 10 years. It marks the departure from an overly medicalised service based in institutions to a modern, multi-disciplinary, recovery-focussed and community based mental health service.
Mental Health Reform is the national coalition of organisations for mental health. It has grown from 5 to 23 member organisations in 2011.