Thursday, 29 April 2021
Covid-19, Mental Health and Older People: Statements
I join colleagues in congratulating the Minister, Deputy McEntee, and her husband, Paul, on the birth this morning of their baby son.
I welcome the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, to the House and thank her for her contribution. As we are all aware, Covid-19 has had a huge impact on our country, adding significant pressure to the nation's mental heath services. I thank the Minister of State for her comprehensive update on service provision and, indeed, her dedication since she took office, particularly in respect of nursing homes in my constituency. Fortunately, we can see that the vaccination programme in nursing homes has been successful and the incidence of Covid in those facilities has been all but eliminated.
However, it is worrying that we have seen a significant increase in eating disorder referrals over the past year. Four out of five young people accessing those services are young women. I particularly welcome the Minister of State's indication that there will be an increase in capacity for people with eating disorders. Equally, I welcome the investment in telehealth services and online services such as the national crisis text line and the support for NGOs that assist people directly. Organisations like SpunOut and Jigsaw have developed fantastic campaigns aimed at younger people, which is very welcome.
As we exit the pandemic, it is critical that supports for people facing personal mental health challenges, whether relating to addiction or other issues, are available. In regard to senior citizens, I welcome the Minister of State's comments on day care centres. I am involved in a day care centre in Dún Laoghaire and it is really reassuring to know there are plans afoot to open it and other centres. I commend her on her commitment to increase services and look forward to engaging with her as they reopen.