“Honour commitment to mental health in next year’s Budget”, urges Mental Health Reform

Mental Health Reform, the national coalition on mental health, has today (20/07/2015) urged Government to keep its Programme for Government commitment to mental health when finalising Budget 2016 and invest €35 million to develop community-based mental health services.

Shari McDaid, Director of Mental Health Reform, said: “If this Government wants to leave a legacy of having improved mental health supports in Ireland, it needs to honour its Programme for Government commitments and continue to invest in comprehensive, community based mental health services. Although there have been some developments in recent years, there is still unacceptable inequity in the mental health services and staff are under strain to meet the increased demand for support. Our 51 member organisations and the hundreds of people who have given us feedback this year tell us that there is wide variation in the resources and quality of services available across the country. Meanwhile, as of April of this year staffing was still 22% below recommended levels.”

“The onus is also on Government departments beyond Health to ensure that wider budget decisions concerning social welfare, housing and education are supportive of recovery from mental health difficulties, including restoring the Back to Work Allowance and providing funding for tenancy sustainment support for people with mental health difficulties transitioning to community living”, Dr McDaid continued.

“By investing in good quality mental health services and related social welfare and housing supports, the Government can not only support people in their recovery but also reduce healthcare costs in other areas of the health sector. The extra physical healthcare requirements caused by mental health difficulties were estimated in 2012 to cost the NHS at least £10 billion. For the final Budget during its current term, the Government must honour its commitment and prioritise mental health”, Dr McDaid concluded.


Notes to the editor:

About Mental Health Reform
Mental Health Reform is the national coalition promoting improved mental health services and the social inclusion of people with mental health difficulties. The coalition currently has 51 members. See www.mentalhealthreform.ie/membership/ for more details. Mental Health Reform acknowledges the support of acknowledgement of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s Scheme to Support National Organisations 2014-2016.

Mental Health Reform’s Pre-Budget 2016 recommendations:
1. An additional €35 million for community mental health services in 2016
2. Implementation of national mental health information system in 2016
3. Continued funding for national stigma/discrimination reduction campaign See Change
4. Continued extension of Counselling in Primary Care service to meet the counselling needs of low to middle-income people with mild to moderate mental health difficulties
5. Further develop primary care psychology services to ensure adequate provision throughout the country
6. Extend free primary care to all people who require long-term mental health treatment and abolish the prescription levy for this group
7. Restore the Back to Work Allowance in order to support people with mental health disabilities into employment
8. Ensure that rent supplement and housing assistance payment caps are in line with the private rental market so that people on rent supplement/HAP have a realistic chance of securing housing in the private rental market.
9. Funding in Budget 2016 for an additional forty individuals to transition from HSE supported accommodation into mainstream housing in the community
10. A dedicated funding stream for tenancy sustainment support for 600 individuals to transition from HSE supported accommodation during 2016
11. Funding to support the implementation of the national guidelines on mental health promotion and well- being for both primary and post primary schools
12. Continue to invest in family supports and parenting programmes

Direct feedback to Mental Health Reform in 2015 from people using mental health services:
On their perception that there is an overemphasis on medication-centred treatment, one individual said: “There’s far too much drug therapy for issues such as depression and anxiety, drugs which are only a temporary fix. Behaviour therapy at least gives you skills to manage your mental health.”
On the difficulty getting access to crisis supports out-of-hours, another individual said: “Out of hours is a very difficult time and A&E was a horrible experience. I’m bipolar and I’ve had to go to A&E at times when I’ve been on a high and it has taken 8 hours, 10 hours and even 11 hours to be seen. I did actually think after the last time that if I had slit my wrists I would’ve been seen quickly because I had a physical injury.”
One social worker told MHR that the issue of landlords being unwilling to accept rent allowance is having a detrimental effect on people’s mental health, including individuals with pre-existing mental health difficulties: “People tell me they are suicidal, they tell me they self-harm, that they feel like bad parents, like failures because they can’t provide a safe and secure home for their family. They tell me they are being made [to] feel inadequate and shamed by landlords and estate agencies when they say they are on rent allowance.”

Mental Health Reform’s full pre-budget submission is available here: https://mentalhealthreform.ie/mhr-pre-budget-2016-submission/

For more information and to arrange an interview with Dr Shari McDaid please contact:
Lara Kelly, Communications and Campaigns Officer, at lkelly@mentalhealthreform.combinedmedia.com 087 6189715


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