Questions need to be answered on mental health funding process - Mark Ward TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has said that Minister Mary Butler either deliberately misled him or does not know her brief when she responded to him this month on how the €10 million one-off funding announced in Budget 2022 would be allocated.
Teachta Ward has called on the Minister to clarify her remarks, which were made during questions on promised legislation last week.
Teachta Ward said:
“In Budget 2022, the government announced €10 million in one-off funding for mental health to focus on community and voluntary based supports that needed to be spent.
“Community groups found the process complicated and time-consuming, and those that applied for the funding have not heard anything back despite the fact that the closing date was in October.
“Even the HSE has said in its emails to the groups that they should not shoot the messenger. Therefore, it is clear that the HSE is embarrassed by the process.
“Minister Mary Butler responded to me during a debate on promised legislation. She said that local organisations were not contacted, that Mental Health Ireland will be used to allocate the money, and that the HSE was not involved in the process.
“Yet I have copies of the emails that were circulated from the HSE to voluntary groups, so either the Minister deliberately misled me with her response or she does not know her brief on how this money is to be delivered. Either way, it is simply not good enough.
“The Minister needs to clarify this.
“We are now in mid-December and this money still has not been allocated. There is widespread confusion on how these funds will be provided to community and voluntary-based mental health supports.
“The process does not seem open to everyone as, according to the Minister, no local organisations were contacted.
“How are these groups identified? What was the process and where is the transparency?
“These are further questions that also need to be answered.
“This is yet another body blow to mental health advocates on top of the news this month that the €10 million announced in February, aimed at increasing mental health supports in response to the pandemic, will not be released to the HSE until next year, while the planned eating disorder service in Mount Carmel Hospital, that was due to open by late 2021, will now not open until June 2022 at the earliest.
“The delays are down to a government and a minister who do not have the urgency, ability or political will to tackle the mental health emergency that they have exacerbated.”