Thursday, 3 June 2021
Mental Health During and Post Covid-19: Statements
Carol Nolan (Laois-Offaly, Independent)
I acknowledge the good work the Minister of State, Deputy Butler, has done to date - it certainly needs to be said here and put on the record - but it is worrying that we have such a deep crisis in mental health that affects people of all ages in the State. Mental Health Reform has expressed concerns at the low priority given to mental health in the Sláintecare implementation and action plan which was launched on 12 May of this year.
There is also concern, as I have said previously, about the budget being allocated to mental health. This year's budgeting being only 5.2%, we face a major crisis - a deeper crisis than we realise. I acknowledge the fantastic work done by so many organisations which are trying to plug the gap left by the HSE.
We have to get the HSE services up to standard. They are really lacking and of a very poor standard. There are not enough mental health services run through the HSE and we need to make sure that we see more Government initiatives in that regard.
Jigsaw is fantastic. Also, accessible counselling, a new counselling service in Tullamore in my constituency in Offaly, run and developed by Mr. James O'Connor, who was one of only five community heroes chosen by Axa which is an outstanding achievement, is doing fantastic work. Were it not for these great community leaders we would be in an even worse state than we are at present.
I am very concerned about people self-harming. I put parliamentary questions in to the Minister for Justice and I was shocked to learn that more than 14,000 people have been engaging in self-harm or harming others due to mental illness since 2018. That is a shocking figure. In 2020, I believe the figure was 5,750. It shows the scale of the problem we face. Rather than let it get into a worse state, we need to put measures in place. Certainly, funding has to be increased. We have to see the HSE rolling out better services and more psychologists and psychiatrists available to people. It is serious.
I will end on a positive note. There are great community people and there is great community spirit and our GAA clubs also are playing a role in that throughout the country.