Thursday, 29 April 2021
Covid-19, Mental Health and Older People: Statements
I welcome that mental health services have continued throughout the pandemic, albeit in a restructured and restricted manner. Specialist mental health services have continued to operate at 85% to 90% of pre-Covid levels. While that continuation of service is welcome, it is undeniable that the impact of the Covid-19 crisis will be felt for many years to come. Recent analysis in the UK found that those who suffered most throughout the pandemic in financial terms were also most likely to suffer some form of mental illness. On the other hand, those whose incomes increased or remained the same were noted to have suffered less. There are two points to be taken from that research. First, as the Minister for Finance, Deputy Donohoe, has assured us, there can be no cliff-edge removal of the pandemic unemployment payment, PUP, and other Covid-related supports. The second point is that getting people back to work as quickly and safely as possible is likely to yield positive mental health impacts.
In that context, I welcome much of the leaked news today about different industries being reopened. Listening to the radio this morning, one could hear the relief in people's voices, in some cases, and, in others, the excitement. If all the reports we are hearing are true, the reopening plans are very welcome. How quickly will all mental health support services resume in person and in safe environments? It is as important as the resumption of retail and other services, if not more so, that people get access to relevant mental supports.