Mental Health Reform has warned that measures announced today (27/11/2014) in the HSE National Service Plan 2015 to improve mental health services will not be achievable without adequate numbers of staff. The Service Plan for 2015 commits to investing €35 million in community-based mental health services, 24/7 crisis responses, suicide prevention and mental health promotion.
Dr Shari McDaid, Director of Mental Health Reform, commented: “The HSE’s ability to provide people in mental and emotional distress with the support they need depends on having skilled staff in place. Mental health is a people business. Services cannot deliver the 24/7 crisis intervention support and community-based follow-up without an adequate number of skilled staff. Mental health services lost 1,000 posts in the early years of the recession, mostly nurses, and since December 2012 a further 133 nursing posts have been lost.”
Dr McDaid continued: “While more than 700 staff have been recruited into mental health services in the past three years, the net increase in staffing has been only 90 posts. The HSE has less than three-quarters of the staff it needs to deliver the Government’s mental health policy. The Minister for Health urgently needs to address the problems with recruitment and retention of mental health staff.”
“The HSE Service Plan commits to building capacity for mental health services to respond 24 hours a day to people in a crisis, as well as to fund practical strategies to reduce loss of life by suicide. It will also help to ensure that the physical health needs of people with a mental health difficulty are met. This is particularly important as people with long-term mental health difficulties have a life expectancy up to 25 years shorter than the norm. Mental health services will be strengthened for neglected groups such as homeless people, young people with an eating disorder, people with an intellectual disability and people with a mental health difficulty within the criminal justice system. While these commitments are welcome, they must be realised, without the delays seen in previous years”, concluded Dr McDaid.