Call for Mental Health Plan in first 100 days of Government

Mental Health Reform seeks structure, plan and resources to deliver commitments on mental health

The government has been urged to deliver on its commitments to mental health by publishing a detailed plan for reform of services within its first 100 days in Office.

Mental Health Reform welcomed commitments to mental health in the Programme for Government and said the coalition partners can now show their commitment by instructing the HSE to put in place an accountable structure, implementation plan and resourcing to deliver on their promises.

Launching Mental Health Reform’s detailed response to the Programme for Government, Director Orla Barry said that Ireland’s mental health plan A Vision for Change needs to be fully implemented by 2016, but in order to achieve this more than just a policy context is needed.

“What is now needed are clear steps and accountability for how this policy will be implemented. At the current rate of progress A Vision for Change will not be implemented even by the outside target of 2016.  To break the ‘implementation deficit’ which the last Government did not address, we are calling on the new Government to signal its commitment to improving mental health services by instructing the HSE to deliver an accountable structure, a published implementation plan for A Vision for Change and resourcing commitments within the first 100 days in Office.

The immediate steps which Mental Health Reform said need to be taken are:

1. An Accountable Structure

A Vision for Change has no single senior executive within the HSE who is responsible for its implementation. An accountable structure must be established to oversee the implementation of the plan with a Director for Mental Health Services responsible.

2. A Published Plan

The HSE must publish a detailed Implementation Plan for the commitments given in the Programme for Government setting out deliverables, a timeline and who is responsible.

3. Financial Commitment

A commitment to increasing the proportion of health budget money dedicated to mental health is required. The proportion of health budget spending on mental health is currently approximately 5% and this should be targeted to reach 8% by 2016. Mental health funding should also be transparently ring-fenced and reported as a specific budget line within the health budget.

Furthermore, mental Health Reform welcomed the Government’s commitment to establish a Cross – Departmental Group on Mental Health and urged this to be set up as soon as possible.  The group added that the government would show real commitment to mental health by enacting legislation that places obligations on the HSE to plan, deliver and report on A Vision for Change.

It is estimated that one in four people experience a mental health difficulty during their lives and that the cost of poor mental health to the Irish economy was €3bn, or 2% of GNP, in 2006.

Cultural shift to ‘Recovery Model’

Mental Health Reform said that a further reason why A Vision for Change has not been sufficiently implemented is because the necessary cultural shift in how we think about mental health and related services has not taken place.A Vision for Change is about moving from a highly medical model of care to a holistic, mental health system that promotes well-being, supports recovery and enables the empowerment of service users.

“To drive this change a programme of education for mental health professionals, service users, family members and communities is required to engender new attitudes and expectations. Training programmes for mental health professionals should be re-shaped to be in line with the approach set out in A Vision for Change,” Orla Barry concluded.

Further Information

Ronan Cavanagh, Montague Communications: (01) 830 3116 or (086) 317 9731.

Full response to Programme for Government at W:

Mental Health Reform

Mental Health Reform was established in 2006 (then called the Irish Mental Health Coalition) as a coalition of the founding organisations which include Amnesty International Ireland, Bodywhys – The Eating Disorders Association, Grow, the Irish Advocacy Network and Shine. Mental Health Reform is currently expanding its membership and is committed to placing mental health in a central position within the public discourse for reform.



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