Mental Health Commission report reveals the deficiencies arising from year-on-year underinvestment in mental health services

Mental Health Reform (MHR), Ireland’s leading national coalition for mental health, is reacting to the release of the Mental Health Commission’s 2023 annual report which lays bare the lack of appropriate funding for mental health services in Ireland.

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.

Whilst we join the Mental Health Commission in welcoming the establishment of Ireland’s first ever Decision Support Service (DSS), the annual report highlights the deficiencies arising from year-on-year underinvestment in mental health services.

MHR and our members continue to consistently call for investment in our mental health services and supports. The mental health budget went from 13% of the overall health budget in 1984 to stagnating between 5% and 6% in recent years, despite the Government’s target of 10% by 2024.

In his first report as Inspector of Mental Health Services, Professor Jim Lucey highlights the need for planned, strategic investment in our mental health services. The stark increase in lower compliance rates is deeply troubling. The report finds that 22 approved centers had compliance rates under 80%, this is compared to 9 in 2022 and only 7 in 2021. MHR is concerned about the findings that minimum regulatory standards are not being met in key areas of staffing, care planning, risk management and premises.

Worryingly, the report notes that there were 46 recorded instances of overcapacity at approved mental health centres, compared to 33 in 2022. Privately operated centres continued to achieve higher rates of compliance than centres which were operated by the HSE. We find it unacceptable that we are operating within a two tier system of mental health service provision.

Sharing the Vision, our national mental health policy, calls for a move towards “zero restraint, zero seclusion” in mental health settings. In this regard, MHR welcomes the 25% reduction in the use of seclusion, and a 9% decrease in the use of physical restraint in 2023 compared to 2002. These are practices that can have harmful physical and psychological effects and can hinder a person’s recovery. MHR also welcomes the reduced number of admissions of children to adult psychiatric units, as recommended by the UN Committee on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC).

The report also calls for the swift roll out of a new Mental Health act to support better and safer mental health services.  MHR urgently calls for the introduction of the draft bill to reform the Mental Health Act, 2001. This bill must be brought to Cabinet and introduced before the summer recess.

Overall, the report highlights that the time has come for mental health services in Ireland to be appropriately funded and brought up to modern standards of care. Investment in mental health must be a priority for this government in Budget 2025. No more delays – Ireland’s mental health services need urgent and substantial investment now. ”


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