Dáil debates

Thursday, 3 June 2021

Mental Health During and Post Covid-19: Statements


2:45 pm

Photo of Richard O'DonoghueRichard O'Donoghue (Limerick County, Independent)

In 2006, the HSE published A Vision for Change for immediate implementation. Unfortunately, most of it was never implemented. The more recent Sharing the Vision policy reads very well. The key priorities that emerged were to prioritise mental health in Ireland as a major issue in society, the importance of primary prevention and positive mental health, a requirement to focus on social inclusion and recovery, the expansion of mental health services to address the spectrum of conditions and needs and the development of governance and financing to include research, evaluation and quality assurance. Will the Minister of State tell me here and now, after two major reports, exactly what has changed?

I have spoken to many people who have said there is no contact point for people in crisis but when I investigated further I found a crisis nurse works from 4 p.m. to 4 a.m. and the service is manned by one person. There are fewer than 50 acute beds in a city the size of Limerick. It is generally full. There is one unit in the area, which means there is a huge mix of groups within the cohort of patients. The unit should be broken down into 20-bed units, with 24-hour health community teams that work weekends as a backup to the crisis team. This would mean a fully operational 24-hour crisis unit.

I pay particular tribute to our volunteers who work on Limerick Suicide Watch and the Limerick rescue group. The number of interventions and incidents in which they were involved increased by 30% in two years. They do so much work in Limerick.

Human rights treaties recognise the right of everyone to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health. At the core of Ireland’s human rights treaty commitments is a range of principles that underpin the fulfilment of all civil and political, social and economic rights for all people.

This is an extract from Sharing The Vision. Can the Minister of State say this is what is happening in Ireland today? I do not think so. Two reports have been done on this and it has never been implemented.

I have great faith in the Minister of State and I hope this will be implemented in its entirety soon.


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