‘Cinderella’ of the health service will not survive another cut

More than 80 organisations and individuals are supporting a campaign to protect the mental health budget – often described as the ‘Cinderella’ of the health services – from further cuts in Budget 2011. The open letter is being delivered to the Dáil at noon today (28/10/10) by Cinderella plus campaign supporters and is also appearing in a national newspaper.

Orla Barry, Director of the Irish Mental Health Coalition, said: “The open letter highlights the crisis Ireland’s mental health service has reached, warning that any further cuts must come with a serious health warning.

“Leading mental health organisations, support groups, trade unions, plus prominent individuals, including economic commentators Eddie Hobbs and Jim Power, and politicians from all parties, have joined forces to demand that mental health is protected from further cuts in Budget 2011.

“Mental health spending is at its lowest level in modern history. Over half of all Health Service Executive staff cuts last year were from mental health, but it makes up only nine per cent of the health workforce. Any further cuts in Budget 2011 will signal the death knell for mental health reform and condemn another generation of Irish people to a system left over from the Victorian age of asylums.

“This situation would be outrageous at any time, but it is unforgivable when we know that in times of financial stress, demand for mental health services rises.

“Put simply, any further cuts will devastate a system already stretched to breaking point. Mental health funding has to be protected from further cuts in Budget 2011.”


Note to editors
Mental health facts and figures:
· Spending on mental health makes up only 5.3 per cent of the overall health budget. This is its lowest level in modern history.

  • Demand for mental health services increases in a recession but between 2006 and 2009 funding for mental health was cut by 10 per cent.
  • Assessment waiting lists for children and adolescents have grown by 14 per cent in less than a year.
  • In 2008, 427 people died by suicide. During 2009 this figure rose by 100 to 527. On 18 October Minister Mary Harney acknowledged, “There has to be a strong link between our economic circumstances and suicide.”
  • Last year there were 200 child admissions to adult mental health wards as there were no facilities appropriate for children available.
  • A quarter of the more than 4,000 people in long-stay residential mental health care in 2007 were is services that did not suit their needs.

Open letter
The following organisations and individuals have signed the open letter calling for mental health to be exempt from further cuts in Budget 2011.

3Ts – Turning the Tide of Suicide
Alcohol Action Ireland
Association of Occupational Therapists of Ireland
Attention Deficit Disorder Midwest Support Committee
Children in Hospital Ireland
Children’s Mental Health Coalition
Children’s Rights Alliance
City of Dublin YMCA
College of Psychiatry in Ireland
Community Foundation for Ireland
Cork Mental Health Foundation
Cross Party Oireachtas Group on Mental Health
Disability Federation of Ireland
Focus Ireland
Headstrong – the National Centre for Youth Mental Health
Housing Association for Integrated Living
Inspire Ireland
Irish Association of Psychologists in Mental Health
Irish Association of Social Workers
Irish Association of Suicidology
Irish Congress of Trade Unions
Irish Council for Civil Liberties
Irish Institute for Mental Health Nursing
Irish Mental Health Coalition (Amnesty International Ireland; Bodywhys; GROW; Irish Advocacy Network; Shine)
Irish Mental Health Lawyers Association
Irish Penal Reform Trust
Mandate Trade Union
Mental Health Ireland
Mounttown Neighbourhood Youth and Family Project
National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals
National Women’s Council in Ireland
National Youth Council of Ireland
OCD Ireland
One in Four
Psychiatric Nurses Association
Psychological Society of Ireland
People with Disabilities Ireland
St. Patrick’s University Hospital
Simon Communities of Ireland
STEER (Donegal)
Suicide of Survive
The Peter McVerry Trust
Traveller Counselling Service
Union of Students of Ireland
Youth Advocate Programmes Ireland

Aengus Ó’ Snodaigh T.D.
Associate Professor Agnes Higgins Mental Health TCD
Caoimhghìn Ó Caoláin, Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Health and Children
Charlie O’Connor T.D.
Chris Andrews T.D.
Senator Dan Boyle, Green Party Seanad Leader and Spokesperson on Finance
Dan Neville T.D, Fine Gael Mental Health Spokesperson
Senator David Norris
Eddie Hobbs, Consumer Campaigner and Broadcaster
Finian McGrath T.D.
Senator Frances Fitzgerald, Fine Gael Seanad Leader and Spokesperson on Health
Dr. Harry Kennedy, Clinical Director, Central Mental Hospital
Jan O’Sullivan T.D, Labour Party Spokesperson on Health and Children
Jim Power, Economist
Mr John Lonergan, Former Governor of Mountjoy Prison
Prof. Kathleen Lynch, Equality Studies Centre, UCD
Kathleen Lynch T.D, Labour Party Spokesperson on Equality and Disability
Dr Mary Keys, NUIG
Mattie McGrath T.D.
Dr Maureen Gaffney
Maureen O’Sullivan T.D.
Michael Kitt T.D.
Senator Niall Ó Brolcháin, Green Party Spokesperson on Health
Senator Nicky McFadden
Dr. Pat Bracken, Clinical Director, West Cork Mental Health Service
Fr Peter McVerry
Peter Kelly T.D.
Senator Phil Prendergast
Thomas Broughan T.D.
Tom Kitt T.D.
Ulick Burke T.D.


For all media enquiries contact Pippa Woolnough
E: pwoolnough@amnesty.ie
T: 01 863 8300
M: 085 8353757


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