Clarity Needed on Mental Health Budget – Adams
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has demanded that the Minister for Health immediately confirm whether the additional €35 million announced in Budget 2017 for mental health services “is real or part of a dishonest attempt by Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil to put the best gloss on an otherwise lacklustre budget.”
The Louth TD was speaking today at the presentation of youth certificates in Muirhevnamor, Dundalk to young people who have successfully completed a four week course on mental health.
Teachta Adams said:
“I want to commend the Muirhevnamor Youth Project Partnership and the Camlough Community Association who organised and funded this course for young people. The course was designed to raise young people's consciousness about mental health in the community and is part of their Community Leaders training.
“Last week when launching Budget 2017, the government claimed that an extra €35 million was being allocated to mental health services. These services are the Cinderella of the health service and are seriously underfunded.
“However, it now appears that the €35 million is not in fact for next year’s budget but will be stretched over the coming years. The Minister of State for Mental Health confirmed on Thursday that just €15 million of this extra funding will be spent next year. This is a significant blow to all of those working on mental health issues. It amounts to less than 2% of an increase on the budget for this year.
“Last week, I visited the Ladywell mental health service in Dundalk where the staff do a remarkable job in old and unsuitable premises. They need new facilities to provide a more effective mental health service. They are only one of many across the state that desperately need additional funding.
“Also last week, the crisis in mental health services was highlighted with the publication by the National Office for Suicide Prevention of the number of deaths by suicide in 2013 in this state in 2013. It reported there 487 deaths by suicide. In the North in 2014 there were 268 deaths by suicide. And it is generally accepted that the real figure for the island is closer to 1000.
“The National Office for Suicide Prevention also recorded that at least 8,790 individuals presented with self-harm at hospitals around the state. Accident and emergency departments do not offer appropriate care or follow up for those in acute mental distress. The €35 million additional money could have helped provide additional services, strengthen existing services and provide for new facilities.
“The government needs to clarify how much additional funding there is for mental health services for 2017 and how they plan to spend that money.”