New mental health report shows radical overhaul needed in mental health services

Investment in community based mental health services and measures to address stigma are among key proposals in a new report published today by TASC, in conjunction with the Brussels based Foundation for European Progressive Studies.

The report “Is an EU-wide approach to the Mental Health Crisis necessary?” examines and compares mental health services in Ireland, France and Poland. 

Based on studying policy work conducted by the European Commission and other organisations and interviews with doctors, psychiatrists and voluntary sector organisations, it states that in Ireland 42% of the population met diagnostic requirements for at least one mental health disorder and more than one in ten adults had attempted suicide.

The report shows there is a lack of access to certain key services “such as help for those experiencing a mental health crisis or emergency.” Other issues include hospital-centric and over-medicalised services, long waiting lists and a lack of appropriate care for vulnerable groups particularly children, young people, and refugees.

The report welcomes the recent development of online mental health and therapy delivery but cautions that these are “not a panacea for mental health services.”

Commenting on the report, Fiona Coyle, CEO, Mental Health Reform said: “This report illustrates the need for the government to prioritise an overhaul of our mental health system. Ireland is one of the most affluent countries in the EU yet spending on mental health is currently only 5.1% of the national health budget. 

Historically, there has been a dire lack of public funding for mental health services so charities have been plugging the gap. The crucial role of the charity sector in providing mental health supports cannot be overstated. However, funding often fails to match the demand for services. People should not have to rely solely on voluntary organisations for support. High-quality mental health services in the public system are vital. 

A lack of community based supports is a serious issue affecting people across the country. There is a postcode lottery in Ireland where some regions offer excellent services while others are severely lacking. People should be able to access mental health services at the earliest point possible before they reach crisis point. Early intervention is critical to improving mental health outcomes and reducing hospital admissions.

Since the pandemic, online mental health supports have expanded and evolved significantly. While digital innovation has many benefits, the report shows there is a digital divide affecting different groups including travellers, older people and migrants. Low digital literacy, poor connectivity and a lack of private space in the home, create barriers to accessing online services. The government must develop a coherent policy framework to address the digital divide and effectively leverage the potential of technology in the mental health sector.”


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