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Winter plan fails people in mental health crisis - Mark Ward TD

10 January, 2023 - by Mark Ward TD

Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has said he is extremely worried about people presenting to emergency departments with suicidal thoughts during the current hospital crisis.

Figures obtained by Teachta Ward show that, on average, 100 people per week present to Emergency Departments with suicidal ideation

23,000 people presented to 25 hospitals with suicidal ideation, or suicidal thoughts, between 2018 and 2021.

Teachta Ward said:

“Emergency departments are not the best place for anyone seeking help with mental health difficulties at the best of times.

“My concerns are that anyone seeking help for mental health problems, including suicidal ideation, during this crisis-level of overcrowding in hospitals may not get the help they need.

“Healthcare workers have been failed by a Minister for Health and a government which has not given them the tools they need to get through winter.

“There was no provision in the government’s winter plan for people seeking mental health supports in emergency departments.

“Suicidal ideation or suicidal thoughts is regarded as an indicator of serious mental and emotional distress, and repeated episodes may lead to self-harm.

“To see a continuing high rate of presentations to hospitals is very worrying.

“Figures released to me through a parliamentary question showed that 23,000 people presented to 25 hospitals with suicidal ideation between 2018 and 2021 - an average of 15 presentations per day.

“Our emergency departments are under intense pressure at the moment and we must make sure they are properly resourced.

“Liaison psychiatry services are tasked with treating those who present with suicidal indentations. They are available in all acute hospitals in Ireland that have an emergency department, however, no services currently meet the minimum level of staffing as per A Vision for Change.

“We must also put in place out of hours emergency mental health services. This would take pressure off our emergency departments and, most importantly, allow people to get the help they need where they need it and when they need it.”

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