Thursday, 29 April 2021
Covid-19, Mental Health and Older People: Statements
The Covid pandemic has brought enormous challenges in the mental health sector. I acknowledge the considerable effort the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, has put into the Jigsaw centre in Thurles since she took office in July 2020. I have been working on this issue since I was first elected in 2016 and it is extremely important for our county. Although the date for opening the centre has been delayed, that is completely outside the Minister of State's control; unfortunately, Covid has played a large part in that. I ask for an update on the status of the Jigsaw project and when that centre can be opened. I know that premises have been acquired and contracts have been signed. I ask for an update on the crisis house in Clonmel.
Many people are under significant financial pressure and we need better counselling services for those people. I have put considerable work into the forestry sector in recent months, as Chairman of the Joint Committee on Agriculture and Marine. Representatives of the forestry sector have appeared before the committee on numerous occasions. That sector is completely malfunctioning at the moment and still has not got its house in order. I am very friendly with a particular forestry contractor, who contacted me yesterday. He is under serious financial pressure, has been forced to let men go and is unable to meet the repayments on his machinery. People in the hospitality sector, the construction sector and the retail sector are also under significant financial pressure. Counselling needs to be available to them on a confidential basis. These people are in a place they never were before with enormous pressure on them.
Thankfully, today we will hear of an easing of restrictions but unfortunately the financial pressure on those people will not disappear with the easing of restrictions. They have repayment problems and enormous financial liabilities built up over the course of the pandemic. Those people need help urgently. Appropriate resources need to be put in place so that these people can get counselling and advice. Mental health advice is one thing, but they also need to be able to talk to someone to allow them to see a way out of their financial difficulties.
Despite its size, County Tipperary has no psychiatric beds available. I plead with the Minister of State to investigate the feasibility of having psychiatric beds both in the north and the south of the county which are urgently needed. People in Tipperary have to travel too far for psychiatric beds.