Written answers

Tuesday, 15 December 2020

Department of Children and Youth Affairs

Residential Institutions

Photo of Kathleen FunchionKathleen Funchion (Carlow-Kilkenny, Sinn Fein)
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401. To ask the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs the additional supports that will be available to survivors of mother and baby homes (details supplied); the services over and above the national counselling service that will be available to survivors of mother and baby homes; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [43206/20]

Roderic O'Gorman (Dublin West, Green Party)
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In preparing for the publication of the final report of the Commission on Mother and Baby Homes, I have highlighted to survivors the counselling supports available to those who may feel they need additional support. Many of the stakeholders I have engaged with in recent weeks have highlighted these issues to me, and I recognise the importance of ensuring former residents’ mental health is prioritised and supported.

Additional funding resources have been made available by the Health Service Executive in 2020 to put in place dedicated and enhanced counselling and separate patient advocacy services for former residents of these institutions. I am continuing to liaise with my colleague, the Minister for Health, to ensure that available capacity is used to the best effect in delivering a strong, responsive and timely service for survivors.

In relation to counselling, the National Counselling Service is a specialist service with 20 years of experience in providing counselling and psychotherapy to a wide range of clients including those who have experienced psychological difficulties due to time spent in institutions. Counselling is available face to face, by telephone or online through secure video. Access to the National Counselling Service for former residents may be made by direct self-referral or by written referrals from health care professionals, such as GPs.

In addition, an out of hours service, Connect Counselling, is also available to provide support and is currently providing an enhanced service from 6pm to 10pm every day (7 days a week). This service is staffed by a professional team experienced in the work of past trauma and in particular childhood trauma. A new webpage with all relevant information for former residents of Mother and Baby Homes has been set-up by the HSE.

An information line has also been established in my Department and all relevant contact information for these supports is available on my Department's website.

Publication of the report, when it occurs, may be a difficult time for all of those affected. I am assured by the Minister for Health that available capacity in these services will be primed to respond to the anticipated increased demand when the report is published and thereafter.

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