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Government neglect of mental health must end – Ó Caoláin

1 December, 2006

Welcoming the comments made by speakers at the annual conference of the Irish Association of Suicidology that highlighted the poor state of mental health services, Sinn Féin Dáil leader and Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD said it was time for the Government to end its neglect of these services.

Deputy Ó Caoláin Said, "Little has changed since the Mental Health Commission Annual Report for 2004 showed that the Irish Government was falling far short of its international obligations and was not meeting the needs of the mentally ill. The report highlighted lack of services, under-resourcing of existing services, poor management, wide variation in clinical practice across the State and inconsistency in service availability between regions. It is a system in need of fundamental change.

"Mental health is the concern of all, not just of those categorised - and often stigmatised - as mentally ill. Like other forms of illness it can affect anyone. Action is needed to raise awareness of this human reality and to ensure the right of all persons to the best available mental health care.

"In our Health policy document Health in an Ireland of Equals, Sinn Féin proposes a range of measures, including:

· The rights of the mentally ill to be enshrined in legislation, including a comprehensive new Mental Health Act and a Disability Act that redresses the inadequacy of the 2005 legislation.

· Full and adequate resourcing of mental health services at all levels.

· Public education programme to promote mental health among the entire population and to combat the stigmatisation of the mentally ill.

· Root and branch review of mental health services in Ireland led by service-users and based on needs.

· Strengthening of the Mental Health Commission to fulfil its role 'to promote and implement best standards of care within the mental health services' and 'to promote and protect the rights of persons availing of mental health services'." ENDS

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