Suicide prevention chronically underfunded despite government lip service – Ó Caoláin
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD, outlined in the Dáil today the impact and incidence of suicide in Ireland, and the chronic government underfunding of suicide prevention services.
Deputy Ó Caoláin said:
“According to the most recent statistics available for suicide in this state, 459 persons - 368 males and 91 females - took their own lives in 2014. At the same time around 300 citizens in the north die each year from suicide. The human cost of this on families and on communities is devastating. The reality is that all sections and all generations of our society are affected, from the very young to the very old, and in rural and urban areas alike.
“Preventative and early intervention mental health care remains underfunded. 1 in 7 adults in Ireland, 644,000 people, have experienced a mental health difficulty in the last year.
“Lack of staff in the sector is a major problem. Despite a greater need for mental health services, there are 1,200 fewer mental health staff now than there were in 2006. Between 2008 and 2015, there was a loss of over 1,000 mental health staff and staffing levels were only 77% of the recommended level in A Vision for Change. In child and adolescent mental health services the situation is more severe with just over half of the staff required in post.
“The overall budget is insufficient also. Nine years on from the publication of the strategy, just 6% of the total health budget goes to mental health, compared to 7.2% in 2006 and far short of the 10% target. In 2014 there were delays in spending the €35 million promised in Budget 2013. In fact, and in practically every year of this Dáil term this Government is not even spending the amount it has publicly committed to.
“Greater support must also be extended to people with mental health issues to access housing. Recent housing lists showed a need for just over 1,000 places for those with mental health difficulties. There was a 36% increase of admissions of homeless people to psychiatric units between 2006 and 2013. We need increased supports to access appropriate housing to aid integration and recovery.
“In terms of crisis supports, more than nine years after the publication of A Vision for Change, mental health services are still not uniformly providing the basic model of care that includes 24/7 crisis intervention, home-based and assertive outreach treatment, with crisis houses as the norm in all areas. A clear framework for collaboration and referral between mental health services is lacking and this must be addressed”, Ó Caoláin concluded.