Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth
Mother and Baby Homes Inquiries
455. To ask the Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth if counselling and support services will be available to all of those who will potentially be impacted by the publication of the mother and baby homes report on 11 January 2021; if it will be ensured that these services are advertised widely and that those affected will be directly contacted with details of the locations the services are available; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44288/20]
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 this issue to me, and I recognise the importance of ensuring former residents’ mental health is prioritised and supported.
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. Information is also included on counselling services available to those living in the UK.
Additional funding resources have been made available by the Health Service Executive in 2020 to put in place enhanced counselling and dedicated patient advocacy services for former residents of these institutions. I am continuing to liaise with my colleague, the Minister for Health, who is responsible for these services, to ensure that available capacity is used to the best effect in delivering strong, responsive and timely services for survivors.
It is not possible to directly contact all those who may be affected as my Department does not have the relevant information. A mailing list is maintained by my Department and any person wishing to be added to the list may contact my Department directly.
Publication of the report, when it occurs, will be a difficult time for all of those affected and I will continue to publicise the available support services in my communications on this matter.