HSE figures show that mental health funding remains stagnant - Mark Ward TD
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has accused the government of not prioritising mental health spending for the fifth year in a row, after figures were released to him by the HSE.
The Dublin Mid-West TD said that successive governments have failed to fund mental health and added that mixed messages have not helped to bring confidence for the years ahead.
Teachta Ward said:
“Once again, the government has failed to increase mental health spending in relation to the overall health budget.
“A response I received to a parliamentary question stated that the overall percentage of spending for mental health in the health budget remained at 5.6% for 2023.
“We have seen a steady decrease in this figure, with 6.2% in 2019 of the overall health budget spent on mental health at just 5.6% this year.
“We are headed in the wrong direction. The international recommendations, and those set out in Sláintecare for mental health spending, are 16% and 10% respectively of the overall health budget.
“Failure to prioritise mental health is a worrying trend that cannot be allowed to continue.
“What is also worrying is that there have been mixed messages by government about spending for mental health.
“On budget day, Minister Michael McGrath announced €57.8 million of additional funding with Minister Mary Butler later taking to Twitter to announce funding of €72.8 million in this year’s budget.
“Figures supplied to me by the HSE state that there is only an increase of €64 million, further adding to the mixed messages.
“When we look at the funding itself, only €14 million of this was new spend, meaning that rest was just standing-still money.
“Current and past governments are failing to grasp the mental health emergency that we are facing, and this lack of true increased spending will have knock-on consequences for service provision, waiting times and the treatment of service users.
“Sinn Féin proposed a new spend of €81.7 million in our alternative budget. In government we would raise the spending to meet the required recommended percentage.
“People and their families deserve a mental health service that works for them and Sinn Féin is committed to delivering this as a priority.”