Mental health remains underfunded as need grows – Pat Buckley TD
Sinn Féin Deputy spokesperson on Mental Health has called on the government to increase the mental health budget for 2017 calling a proposed increase of just 1.8% pitiful and unacceptable. He made his comments as part of a debate on waiting times for counselling services in Primary care which saw increasing demand and longer waiting lists in recent years.
Deputy Buckley continued;
“The demand for Counselling in Primary Care is steadily growing with referrals in 2014-2015 increasing from 14,407 to 17,000.
"Waiting lists for access to a first appointment are long and growing. 2,496 people waiting for counselling at the end of the first quarter in 2016. 45% (1,119) of people were waiting between 4-12 weeks and 21% (520) between 12 and 24 weeks. 5% (139) of clients were waiting over 24 weeks.
"I wonder how many people on these lists have in this time had their health suffer, engaged in self harm or self harming behaviours, made an attempt on their life or sought emergency support which has been of course found wanting.
"A major concern for people who wish to see and improvement in this and other services in mental health is the failure by government to live up to previous pronouncements on budget increases for these services.
"The government have now said they will increase the mental health budget by just 1.8% or 15 million euro in 2017. Less than half what they claimed on budget day.
"Will the Minister commit to reviewing this funding level which is clearly inadequate to address growing demand and the need to improve services generally to implement A Vision for Change.
"15 million is simply not enough and feels like box ticking from a government that promised an increase so felt obliged to provide the crumbs off the table and dress them up as something better when the media were watching.”