Sinn Féin’s spokesperson on Arts, Heritage, Tourism & Sport, Sandra McLellan TD has tonight warned that cutting back on funding and resources for mental health in the current climate is a recipe for disaster with serious life threatening consequences.
Speaking during the Dáil debate on Sinn Féin’s Private Members Motion on Mental Health and Suicide, McLellan said;
“Sinn Féin has tabled this Private Members motion to highlight the ongoing need to improve the state’s response to mental health and the need for a comprehensive response to suicide prevention.
“No member of this Oireachtas is immune to mental health problems. No family immune to the tragedy of suicide. We must also remember that none of us know when we will need to access mental health services.
“Unfortunately there are huge challenges in our mental health services. Many of these short comings are as a result of government policy. Cutting back on funding and resources in the current climate is a recipe for disaster with serious life threatening consequences.
“The Mental Health Commission, the government watch dog, indicated in its annual report that mental health services are in danger of, ‘stagnating and moving backwards’.
“This is down to a combination of staff shortages and slow changes to work practices meaning progress in some areas has ground to a halt.
“Only 44 per cent of services complied with staffing requirements last year, while 60 per cent met regulations in relation to individual care plans for patients. This is unacceptable.
“We must also ensure that those in our prisons receive appropriate mental health care. It is totally inappropriate for people to be isolated from supports and from services simply because they are awaiting trial or in custody. They still have rights and the state still has a responsibility to ensure those in prison are properly taken care of.
“Prisoners should have access to mental health services, visits and supports so as the isolation of incarceration does not take hold. The denial of family visits and supports has certainly contributed to suicides in our prison system.”