Speaking in the Seanad today during the Labour Party’s Private Members Bill on funding for community mental health services, Sinn Féin Senator, David Cullinane said:
“Against a backdrop of continuing recession, the mental health of the population of Ireland is under severe strain.
“Research shows that unemployment and income inequality are major contributory factors to poor mental health and go some way to explaining the increase in suicide and self-harm.
“The Government has a duty to protect vulnerable people and to ensure the negative effects of the crisis are not exacerbated by a lack of services for people with poor mental health.
“I welcome todays PMB from the Labour Party and I support the call for resourcing of community mental services, increased staffing levels in the area of suicide prevention, and the acceleration of services for children and adolescents.
“However I take issue with the self- congratulatory tone of the Bill.
“In the Programme for Government, a commitment was made to “vastly improve access to modern mental health services in the community”, in line with the recommendations of the mental health policy A Vision for Change.
“The reality is that few appointments have been made since 2012 to community mental health teams.
“Of the 477 posts allocated in 2013, at 30th September 2013, only 4%of posts have been filled.
“In the context of a gap of over 1,500 staff in community mental health services there is an urgent need to fulfil the promised investment.
“Notwithstanding the country’s current economic difficulties, it is crucial that the Government’s commitment to reforming mental health does not waver.”