Cork voters asked to help make mental health a priority

Mental Health Reform is inviting voters in the Cork area to a town hall meeting on mental health on Monday 30th November, 5.30-8pm in the Metropole Hotel in Cork. The meeting will be attended by Minister of State for Primary and Social Care, Kathleen Lynch TD, and other candidates from Cork North Central and South Central constituencies.

Shari McDaid, Director of Mental Health Reform, said: “The one thing that all political parties and candidates agree on is the need to improve our mental health services, but what we really need is effective action. The Our state of mind campaign is asking voters to remind every candidate to make mental health a priority and to seek five key improvements: a nationwide school programme to build good mental health, easy access to counselling, access to 24/7 crisis supports, a right to advocacy support and a right to make one’s own decisions about mental health treatment through advance healthcare directives. It’s time to make mental health an issue on the doorsteps, and this town hall meeting is an important first step.”

“Mental health difficulties touch people of all ages and backgrounds, but services are struggling. In Cork, 537 children were waiting to be seen in child and adolescent community mental health services at the end of August. Given that 75% of mental health difficulties start between ages 15 and 25, it is vital that the right supports are in place and easy to access”, continued Dr McDaid.

“We know mental health affects everyone in the country, whether you have gone through a mental health difficulty yourself or know someone who has. It’s time to challenge candidates to say what they will do to improve Ireland’s mental health. This meeting will be an opportunity for people to hear where political parties stand on mental health, and to share their concerns about the issue with candidates”, Dr McDaid concluded.

Mental Health Reform is asking anyone interested in attending the meeting to email to book a place. When booking a place, let Mental Health Reform know if you are affiliated to a particular political party.

About the Our state of mind campaign

The Our state of mind campaign is Mental Health Reform’s General Election campaign on mental health, and asks for:

A nationwide school programme to build good mental health. Because most mental health difficulties begin in childhood. If we give our children the knowledge and tools to look after their mental health, we will build their resilience and greatly reduce the amount of distress later in their lives.

Access to 24/7 crisis supports. Mental health services are still not providing 24/7 crisis intervention services as the norm in all areas. People in a mental health crisis are still sitting through lengthy waits in busy A&E Departments, sometimes 8 hours or more, before getting support. Ireland continues to have a high rate of suicide, so why is this gap in crisis services allowed to persist?

Easy access to counselling. Counselling and talk therapies can often be effective for mild to moderate mental health difficulties. But these therapies are vastly under-resourced in Ireland. Why isn’t access to counselling prioritised to prevent mental health difficulties from escalating into disabling conditions?

A right to advocacy support. Currently there is no legal right to an advocate to support people with a mental health difficulty in services and to get access to health services, housing, employment advice or welfare benefits. After a mental health crisis, people need help to get back their life in the community.

Advance healthcare directives. Every person should have the right to make choices about their own mental health treatment. These choices should be based on their own wishes and preferences. Without access to advance healthcare directives, people with mental health difficulties are being forced to undergo treatment they don’t want, even when they are capable of making a decision.




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