Mental health treated with contempt by Fine Gael – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin’s Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has criticised the decision to reallocate €12 million of the mental health budget by the outgoing government, highlighting the necessity of treating mental illness with the same gravity as a physical illness.
Addressing caretaker Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar in the Dáil today, Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“Minister, You have said that the move to reallocate €12 million of the mental health budget this year is not a ‘raid’ by you. This is rubbish. It is robbery. Robbery of money that is so desperately needed by so many in order to help them go about their day to day lives and to ensure that they have the best possible chance to live and lead a happy life.
“But should we be surprised? This so called “ring-fenced” money has been targeted by your department and the HSE on an annual basis. You have shown absolute contempt for those people who rely so desperately on the provision of mental health care services. This is the case, despite the fact that 644,000 people, one in seven adults, have experienced a mental health difficulty in the past year.
“A staffing crisis was confirmed by Psychiatric Nurses Association at its meeting last week where figures from across the country showed that there are up to 700 vacant posts in the mental health services with up to 1,000 nurses needed to fill current and expected vacancies.
“The scourge of suicide has devastated communities. We cannot afford to treat mental health any differently to any other illness. We need to approach it exactly like we do cancer. Mental Health needs to be taken seriously.
“Minister. Please. Enough is enough. People’s lives are depending on you. Please ensure that this substantial sum of money is not taken from the mental health budget. This plunder has to stop.”