Mental Health Reform welcomes today’s (11/07/13) launch of the Counselling in Primary Care service that will enable adult medical card holders throughout the country to access time-limited counselling through their GP.
In response to the launch, Dr. Shari McDaid, Mental Health Reform’s spokesperson, commented: “One of the strongest messages to come out of the consultation that fed into the Government’s mental health policy A Vision for Change was that people in mental or emotional distress want alternatives to medication, including access to counselling and psychotherapy. The consensus at that time was that psychological therapies should be considered a fundamental component of basic mental health services. People who use mental health services and their family members have consistently told us that they want access to psychological therapies.”
Dr. Shari McDaid continued, “The roll-out of a national, free counselling service accessible through primary care is a welcome step towards meeting the need for alternatives to medication for mental and emotional distress. We view this as a positive measure to improve mental health in Ireland.”
“It will be important to monitor the impact of the service closely to see how far it goes to meeting the need for counselling services in primary care. Evidence shows that a majority of clients who seek psychotherapy would require 20-45 sessions in order to recover. The Counselling in Primary Care service provides short-term counselling with a maximum of eight sessions and there will still be a need for longer-term therapy for some clients.”
“The Counselling in Primary Care service also will not cater for individuals with moderate to severe mental health difficulties who will be required to seek access to psychological therapy through the mental health services. The Inspector of Mental Health Services reported in his review of services for 2012 that most people receiving mental health treatment are being offered a more traditional, medicalised version rather than that propounded in A Vision for Change. It is important that all the community mental health team staffing due in 2013 comes on stream this year to enable greater access to psychological therapies for people using mental health services as well”, Dr. McDaid concluded.