Laid-off Pieta House staff must be re-employed as a matter of urgency - Mark Ward TD
Sinn Fein TD for Dublin Mid-West Mark Ward has welcomed the news that tomorrow's Late Late Show will be dedicated to fundraising for Pieta House and mental health services.
Pieta House, whose original centre is located in the Dublin Mid-West area of Lucan, announced 28 redundancies for clinical support workers this week and Deputy Ward has called on any funds raised to be directed towards re-employing these workers as a matter of urgency.
He also urged the Government not be content with just plugging the gap left by these vacancies, but to actually provide a comprehensive mental health service that is required across the state.
Teachta Ward said:
“It is welcome that the Late Late Show will be dedicated to mental health and to Pieta House, whose original centre is in my own constituency in Lucan.
"I have known many people who they have assisted over the years. I, like others, am extremely grateful for the services they provide - free therapy to those engaging in self-harm, with suicidal ideation or who have been bereaved by suicide.
“I was saddened to see Pieta House announce 28 redundancies for clinical support workers this week as a result of a funding shortfall due to their flagship fundraiser Darkness into Light falling victim of COVID-19.
“Having taken part in Darkness into Light myself over the years, I have always found it an emotional experience and was looking forward to it being held this year for the first time in my native Clondalkin.
“I will donate to the fundraiser on the Late Late Show tomorrow and encourage others to do likewise.
"But, like many people who have contacted me, I would like to see any funds generated to be directed towards re-employing the 28 clinical support workers who were made redundant.
“Sessional therapists have also been let go and a number of these have contacted me devastated as they are passionate about improving the well-being of the clients they serve.
"Other now former staff members have also been in touch and have disclosed that they have been asked not to discuss staffing reductions with the media.
“But there is a broader issue here. Charities like Pieta House are required to fill the gaps in services that the Government does not provide for adequately.
"I am calling on the Government to provide a comprehensive mental health service so supports are there when people need them.
"The much-lauded 'A Vision for Change' strategy document, which set out a roadmap for mental health services in Ireland, needs to be taken off the shelf, dusted down, re-examined and be fully implemented once and for all.
“The big announcement last week by the Minister for Health of €1.1 million for mental health supports might have grabbed headlines. But it will not deliver for frontline mental health services who were already struggling pre COVID-19.
“Such services have never been funded properly as can be seen by the long waiting lists for both adults and children. This was pre COVID-19 - the strain on services will only increase during and after this crisis.
“As of December, there were 2,327 children waiting for an appointment with the HSE's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS). Over 100 of those kids have been waiting over 18 months - some for more than two years. This is truly unacceptable.
“If the Government was doing its job properly and took the mental health of our people seriously, it wouldn’t be necessary for a charity like Pieta House to exist in the first place."