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McDonald welcomes publication of Mental Health Reform Advocacy Report

25 July, 2017 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD

Sinn Féin deputy leader Mary Lou McDonald TD has welcomed the publication of an important report by Mental Health Reform detailing the advocacy needs of mental health services users living in the community, and called on the government to act on the report’s recommendations. 

The All Ireland Spokesperson on Mental Health and Suicide Prevention said:

“A Vision for Change recommended that all users of mental health services should have a right to use the services of a mental health advocate, yet eleven years on this very basic right has yet to be realised by all service users.

“Mental Health Reforms report on the Advocacy Needs of Mental Health Service Users Living in the Community launched today is an important pilot study providing real time analysis of the challenges facing service users today.   

“Insufficient numbers of those accessing services are aware of the specific advocacy supports available to them. We know that the experience of too many vulnerable patients is one of disempowerment. This needs to change.

“Patients and service users not only have a right to make decisions regarding the mental health services they access and the care they need, they also have a right to an independent one-to-one advocacy service.

“Mental Health Reform’s report tells us that many service users are already coming from a place of isolation within their communities with an insufficient feeling of control over their own lives. A significant number of the pilot study’s participants expressed difficulties accessing services and entitlements and also a lack of confidence in advocating for themselves when, for example, needing to appeal social welfare decisions or seeking housing from local authorities.

“Whilst today’s report is an important evidence based analysis of mental health service users’ experiences in Ireland today, it also confirms much of what we already know.  There is an urgent need for independent one-to-one advocacy for mental health service users, and progress needs to be made by service providers in involving patients in decision making.

“I want to commend Mental Health Reform for producing this report, and to acknowledge the great work of the authors Shari McDaid and Anna Ní Bheara. I have today written to the Junior Minister with special responsibility for Mental Health Jim Daly TD asking that he act on the report’s recommendations.” 

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