Timeframe must be laid out for implementation of mental health strategy – Adams
Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD, speaking in the Dáil during Leaders’ Questions this afternoon, has said the government has failed, like the previous government before it, to implement the Vision for Change mental health strategy and he urged the Taoiseach to commit to a timelined implementation plan for the outstanding elements contained in A Vision for Change.
Teachta Adams said:
“This morning the Irish Examiner reported that there have been sixteen suicides in Cork in a fortnight. Today it is Cork, another day it will be Kerry or Louth or Belfast. All sections and generations are affected, from the very young to the very young to the very old in urban and in rural areas.
“It is at a human cost beyond comprehension. One in seven adults experience mental health challenges in any given year. In 2015, there were 451 recorded suicides in this State and 318 in the north. We all know that under-reporting is widespread, so the real figure across the island may be as high as 1,000.
“The State’s mental health policy A Vision for Change is ten years old and ten years on there is still an absence of 24/7 crisis care. Staffing levels are 75% of the recommended number in A Vision for Change and in some cases they are way behind that figure. Staffing child and adolescent teams is half that which is recommended.
“A Vision for Change commits the government to providing 8.24% of the health budget to mental health services. That target has never been met and that pattern has been repeated in this year's budget. An allocation of €35 million was announced, but the Minister then said that only €15 million in additional funds would be provided for next year. That is an increase of less than 2%.
“I am sure that Minister Helen McEntee is doing her best and we wish her well, and all parties and all independents should work with her, but the Taoiseach needs to give her the required resources.
“The fact is the government has failed, like the previous government, to implement the Vision for Change strategy and the Taoiseach should to commit to publishing a timelined implementation plan for the outstanding elements contained in A Vision for Change.
“My point to the Taoiseach and everybody else is that we must recognise the issue of suicide as a national emergency and put in place measures to tackle it. We need action and an emergency taskforce to be set up across the State which would work in co-operation with colleagues in the north and local communities, and I would urge the Taoiseach to commit to dealing with this as an emergency and act on it as he would any other.”