Mental Health Reform welcomes the allocation of an additional €75.2M for mental health in Budget 2024 but has expressed concern at the lack of funding for new mental health services.
The Government has allocated between €13M – €14M for the development of new measures in mental health. There has been no increase in development funding since last year despite inflationary pressures.
Fiona Coyle, CEO, Mental Health Reform said: “The lack of new funding announced today will threaten the viability of mental health services in 2024.
We believe that cost overruns in the health budget have jeopardised funding for new mental health services. While we acknowledge the increasing demands on the health system, it is short-sighted and irresponsible to divert vital funding from mental health.
A minimum of €85M is required for the development of new measures to address unmet need. This funding is essential to provide critical services to children and young people, people with complex mental health difficulties and priority groups. The budget will have a freezing effect on the mental health system as many services will be forced to stagnate with no potential for expansion.
We welcome the allocation of 68 new posts for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). While this development is significant, it is not enough to address the broader issues in youth mental health. Specialised services alone are not enough to support young people with mental health difficulties. Early intervention and prevention are key to preventing the development of more complex and costly mental health issues. The voluntary and community sector plays a crucial role in the delivery of these services, including education, talk therapies, helplines and peer support.
Many staff in the voluntary and community sector feel frustrated and demoralised by the lack of new funding. Since the pandemic, the demand for mental health support has risen exponentially yet there has been little sustainable funding increase for the sector in recent years. Without additional investment, organisations will find it extremely difficult to recruit and retain staff while continuing to support large volumes of service users
Insufficient funding will create huge challenges for the HSE’s national clinical programmes in mental health. National clinical teams provide care to people with eating disorders, psychosis, dual diagnosis and other complex needs. At least €40M is needed to expand services and recruit new staff. Once again, the Government is reneging on its own promises by failing to provide new funding. This will have a devastating impact on people with mental health difficulties who require life-saving treatment.
Despite these disappointments, we would like to acknowledge some positive measures in the budget including funding for the Traveller Counselling Service which will provide community-based counselling to the traveller community. We also welcome the continued roll-out of suicide bereavement liaison officers who provide support to families and individuals after the loss of a loved one to suicide.
Mental Health Reform would also like to acknowledge the dedication and commitment of Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler. We look forward to continuing our engagement with Minister Butler and our members to advocate for improved mental health services in Ireland.”
Niamh Fahy – email@example.com / 083 056 6363