Crisis in mental health provision – Adams
Sinn Féin president, Gerry Adams TD, has accused the government of failing those with mental health issues, especially young people and failing to tackle the related crisis of suicide.
Speaking this morning during Leader’s Questions in the Dáil, Teachta Adams raised the issue of a suicidal man who was turned away from a mental health unit in Roscommon last weekend because of lack of psychiatric nurses. He called for Minister Kathleen Lynch to take immediate and urgent steps to rectify the Roscommon situation.
The Sinn Féin leader also raised the related issue of suicide and called for the government to invest properly in mental health services, especially for young people, and in particular the creation of an all-island Suicide Prevention Authority.
Teachta Adams said:
“It is reported that, last weekend, a suicidal man was turned away from the acute hospital mental health unit in Roscommon. According to the PNA (Psychiatric Nurses’ Association) the unit at Roscommon does not have the required level of staff to deal with patients and the situation is at crisis point.
“This crisis has been exacerbated by the government cuts agenda and specifically the closure of St Luke's Ward in Ballinasloe.
“As many as 1,000 citizens a year – that’s three people every day – are taking their own lives across this island. Despite this suicide epidemic, suicide prevention and the Mental Health services are seriously under resourced.
“This is evident in the experience of a young girl who spent four days in A & E in Cork because of the shortage of beds in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services Unit before eventually being transferred to the adult psychiatric unit.
“The Mental Health Commission prohibits such practices and the HSE accepts that it is not best practice. The report of the Mental Health Commission indicates that 106 children were admitted to adult mental health units last year, a quarter of all child admissions. This is unacceptable.
“Paul Gilligan, clinical psychologist and CEO of St Patrick’s University Hospital has said that the state is failing these young people.
“The government needs to accept that this is a national crisis. There is also a particular problem with youth suicide. In comparison to the rest of the EU this state ranks fourth highest in the suicide rate amongst 15-24 year olds. That’s one young person every 18 days dying from suicide.
“Ten years ago A Vision for Change was launched as a mental health strategy – yet it has not been implemented.
“People also voted in a referendum for children’s rights, but recent figures from the Mental Health Commission reveal that 2,056 young people were waiting to be seen and that 160 of these had been waiting between 9-12 months. I have no doubt these figures have increased.
“This is unacceptable. Immediate and urgent steps are needed to rectify the Roscommon situation and the government needs to invest sufficient funds and resources in mental health services and suicide prevention.”