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Failure to protect mental health budget will have serious consequences – O’ Reilly

26 April, 2016 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Sinn Féin TD for Fingal Louise O’Reilly has criticised the outgoing government’s approach to mental illness, which has overseen money originally allocated to the mental health service redirected elsewhere.

Speaking today in the Dáil, Deputy O’Reilly said:

“There are many, many tragic personal stories which all of the deputies here will have heard and which underline the impact of the policy of successive governments on individuals, their families and their communities. The findings of a recent study undertaken by the RCSI and nurse representatives make for alarming reading and seriously call into question the commitment of the outgoing government and their acting ministers to the mental health of the people of this state.

“Cast your mind back for a moment acting Minister to your ‘Let’s keep the recovery going’ document. You made much of increasing the mental health budget by 20%. Your party said you would ‘continue to provide further resources to ensure services reach people directly.’

“So what was your solution to the national emergency that you have created in our health service? You are raiding the mental health budget to shore up your failure to fund other areas. Robbing Peter to pay Paul – that’s all that is Acting Minister and it will not help those who will tonight need to access mental health services.  

“Failing to ring fence the mental health budget will have wide ranging and long term consequences. This is the crux of what is wrong in our mental health services - poaching the mental health budget because of a crisis somewhere else.

“We should be doing all we can to help our young people – we should be resourcing our mental health professionals and the services.  More than talking about early intervention we should be working with our partners in education north and south of this island to resource a mental health strategy for the whole island, which has early intervention at its core and which will promote positive mental health for all the youth of this island.  That’s what is needed acting Minister but I regret to note that what is lacking is the political will to do this.”

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