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Wear the See Change Green Ribbon - Adams

6 May, 2016 - by Gerry Adams

Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has welcomed the launch of the See Change Green Ribbon campaign launch in Leinster House yesterday (May 5th) and has urged citizens to wear the ribbon during the month of May in support of the campaign to end the stigma surrounding mental health issues.

Teachta Adams said:

“Several weeks ago I met HSE representatives in Ardee to discuss the provision of supports and resources for suicide prevention and mental health within Louth. It was very clear from the information we received that Louth is seriously underfunded. According to the most recent statistics Louth is allocated approximately €104 per person. This is €48 below the annual average allocation across the state and the 2nd lowest per capita funding on mental health. 

We also know that there is a staffing crisis with up to 700 vacant posts in the mental health services and as many as 1,000 nurses needed to fill current and expected vacancies. This was recently confirmed by the Psychiatric Nurses Association.

The government previously gave a commitment to provide €35 million for mental health services. I was told by the HSE staff working in the constituency that much of this money has not yet been allocated down to the services that desperately need it. Now we learn that in a sleight of hand the Minister for Health is diverting €12 million away from mental health services. This is unacceptable. 

Mental health services are the Cinderella of the health service. The result is that there are significant gaps in mental health provision and in the physical infrastructure needed for staff to provide the quality service that is required. 

This is most obvious in Louth in the facilities for mental health services at the Ladywell Centre in the Louth Hospital which is a dilapidated prefab.

It must be remembered that the most recent statistics available for suicide in this state say that 459 persons - 368 males and 91 females - took their own lives in 2014. At the same time around 300 citizens in the north die each year from suicide. It is generally accepted that the real figure for suicide is higher and that as many as 1000 citizens die across this island each year by suicide. The human cost of this on families and communities is devastating. 

The reality is that all sections and all generations of our society are affected, from the very young to the very old, and in rural and urban areas.  Self harming is also a huge issue in Irish society today. Thousands are admitted to hospitals every year as a result of self-harm which in many cases go unreported. 

While much good work has been done in recent years in raising awareness, developing suicide prevention strategies and producing reports more needs to be done. In particular, the mental health budget needs to reflect the seriousness of the problem and no government and no Minister of Health should be taking money away from mental health provision. On the contrary they should be ensuring that the €35 million allocated to mental health is spent on mental health.

I would appeal to everyone to wear the green ribbon during this month and to commit to doing all we can to break the silence and the stigma surrounding mental health issues and ensuring that there is adequate government funding available.”

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