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Mental health budget cannot be compromised – McDonald

13 May, 2016 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin TD and deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald has called upon Minister for Health Simon Harris to give guarantees that the mental health budget will be ring-fenced and protected from the almost annual raids of the previous government.

Deputy McDonald said that self-harm is the largest killer among 15 to 24-year-olds in Ireland and the government must wake up to the crisis situation.

The Dublin Central TD said:

“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. Self-harm is now the leading cause of death of 15-24 year olds in this country. Any government that did not realise the seriousness of the situation were either callous in the extreme or detached from reality

 “We were told that the recent move to reallocate €12 million of the mental health budget this year is not a ‘raid’. It is so much more than that; it is an attack on the services that so many vulnerable people depend on. This is the crux of what is wrong in our mental health services; poaching the mental health budget because of a crisis somewhere else.

“Minister Simon Harris must now give an absolute guarantee that money ring-fenced for mental health services is not seen as soft money to be poached when another crisis in the health service rears its head. This is not just a case of robbing Peter to pay Paul; it is putting lives in jeopardy.” 

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