Mental Health Commission report reveals signs of historic underfunding in mental health services

Mental Health Reform is deeply concerned about the findings of the Mental Health Commission’s 2022 annual report, which highlights signs of historic underfunding in Ireland’s mental health services.

Commenting on the report, Fiona Coyle, CEO, Mental Health Reform said: “We welcome the publication of the Mental Health Commission’s annual report which provides key insights into Ireland’s inpatient mental health services.

While there have been positive improvements, the Mental Health Commission’s 2022 annual report highlights persistent issues in our mental health system that must be addressed. This includes the urgent need to update our mental health legislation and increase investment in mental health.

The findings expose the negative consequences of historic underfunding in our mental health services such as poor quality facilities, overcrowding and a lack of community-based care. As of 2023, the national mental health budget represents just 5.6% of the total health budget. Unless the Government increases spending to 10% of the total health budget by 2024, it will fail to meet the target proposed in Sláintecare.

It is extremely disappointing that applications to involuntarily detain people by An Garda Síochána have increased for the fourth consecutive year. When people are experiencing distress, they should be met with a qualified healthcare practitioner. An Authorised Officer should be the only person to sign applications for involuntary admission to an inpatient centre. The reform of the Mental Health Act, 2001 must be progressed to oblige the HSE to increase the number of Authorised Officers across the country.

The admission of young people with enduring mental health difficulties to long stay approved centres is very worrying. Congregated settings are not the best environment for those with complex needs. People with long-term mental health difficulties have a right to live independently and be included in the community. As a society, we must continue to move away from institutional care and increase investment in rehabilitation services and appropriate housing to support recovery.

With the reform of the Mental Health Act, 2001 we have an opportunity to deliver modern, high-quality mental health services that protect people’s human rights. It has been 20 years since our last major change in mental health legislation. It is critical that the Government introduces this legislation to the Houses of the Oireachtas as soon as possible.”


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