Dear Minister McEntee,
On the 11th of October 2016, both Mental Health Reform (MHR) and the Union of Students in Ireland (USI) welcomed the Government’s decision to allocate €35M in development funding as a positive step towards implementation of the national mental health policy, A Vision for Change. Disappointingly, less than one week later we learned that under half of this money, €15M, would be released to the HSE to spend in 2017.
The allocation of €15m for 2017 will represent only a 1.8% investment in new developments for mental health compared to the 2016 budget. Even including the €9.7M announced for increased pay rates in mental health services, this represents an increase of just 3% in revenue funding for mental health, much less than the 7.4% increase in revenue spending for the health budget as a whole. This Government’s allocation will do little to redress the decades of neglect of Ireland’s mental health services, let alone put in place the foundations for a modern mental health system.
In an act of community just five months ago, the #IAmAReason campaign rallied together to share our stories and to share what kind of impact cuts to and underdevelopment of mental health services means for real people. All over social media and outside the gates of Leinster House, we spoke about the lack of 24/7 crisis intervention services. We spoke about staffing levels in child and adolescent mental health services being 48% below recommended levels. We spoke about staffing levels across the mental health services being 21% below recommended levels. We spoke about the inadequate mental health service infrastructure available to support the needs of people affected by homelessness and dual diagnosis.
Here again, we find ourselves in the same position.
Jointly, and on behalf of our members, MHR and USI are seeking an urgent review of this Governments decision to allow just 1.8% in additional spending in 2017 for mental health care improvements.
Shari McDaid, PhD. Director of Mental Health Reform
Annie Hoey, President of the Union of Students in Ireland