Mental Health Reform has today launched a new report which illustrates the impact of the Voluntary and Community Sector on Ireland’s mental health system.
Titled, ‘Resetting the Non-Profit Voluntary and Community Mental Health Sector After the Pandemic’, the report has been published as part of the Brave New Connections project, an initiative supporting capacity-building for non-profit mental health organisations adapting to the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic.
For the first time, it presents a structured profiling of the nature and volume of the services and supports provided by the non-profit mental healthcare sector. This provides new insights, evidence, and perspectives that can inform current efforts to develop the Irish mental healthcare system and achieve the policy objectives of Sharing the Vision, Connecting for Life, Healthy Ireland, and Sláintecare. Enhanced and more effective leveraging of the contribution of the non-profit mental health sector is an important cross-cutting theme for all these policy frameworks.
The non-profit mental healthcare sector played a pivotal role during the COVID-19 pandemic in ensuring access to services and supports for those who needed them. As perhaps never before, this has shown the real worth and contribution of the sector as a partner to the public services and as a key pillar of the overall mental health ecosystem.
These achievements were not without challenges, and non-profit organisations often committed substantial human and financial resources to rapidly adapt and continue providing their services. Currently, many of these organisations must operate with limited, precarious or no public funding, relying on fundraising to generate income and seeking donations.
Public-funding and leveraging of the non-profit mental health sector has emerged in a rather ad-hoc manner over the years, without any overall view of the sector, what it does and what it can do. We hope this report will prompt an informed discussion and movement towards a more coherent approach, commensurate with the sheer scale of its contribution and recognising the diversity of organisations, large and small, with important roles to play. This should go hand-in-hand with implementation of the Sharing the Vision recommendations for substantial strengthening of the structural and operational role of the sector within the overall publicly-funded mental health ecosystem.