Thursday, 17 December 2020
Department of Health
Mental Health Services
625. To ask the Minister for Health the extent to which it is proposed to augment and provide improved youth mental health services throughout the country, with particular reference to assessment and availability of residential places in respect of individual cases that warrant comprehensive follow-up; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44626/20]
626. To ask the Minister for Health the steps taken or planned to address the serious deficiencies in child and adult mental health services; when he expects to be in a position to provide serious improvement in such services; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44627/20]
627. To ask the Minister for Health his plans for improvement in all aspects of mental psychiatric health services, with a view to ensuring availability and access to services throughout the country; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44628/20]
I propose to take Questions Nos. 625 to 627, inclusive, together.
Supporting positive mental health and wellbeing is a priority for me and the Government. This is particularly important during the current pandemic. Covid has presented significant challenges for people’s mental health, including increased stress, anxiety and fear.
Accordingly, the Government remains fully commitment to the continued development of mental health services across a broad continuum from mental health promotion to acute and specialist services. The approach taken reflects the over-arching principles of the widely agreed Sláintecare.I am progressing the various mental health commitments reflected in our new national mental health policy Sharing the Visionand those in the current Programme for Government. In addition, I have recently extended Connecting for Life, the national suicide reduction strategy, until 2024.
The inaugural meeting of the National Implementation and Monitoring Committee (NIMC), tasked with driving implementation of Sharing the Visionwas held on 11thDecember and work of associated Specialist Groups will commence in early 2021. As part of the work of the NIMC and Specialist Groups there will be a focus on reviewing current mental health inpatient capacity, including child, adolescent and adult beds.
The Government has invested significantly in the enhancement of mental health services. The Budget 2021 allocation for Mental Health, of €1.076 billion, is an increase of €50 million over 2020. Of the additional €50 million for 2021, €23 million will be used to commence implementation of many of the short-term recommendations set out in Sharing the Vision. This will fund an additional 153 staff in enhancing community mental health teams, including CAMHS, Clinical Care programmes, bereavement counselling, employment supports and Crisis Resolution. We have provided €15 million specifically for Covid-related measures, including the provision of extra mental health beds, as required. Additional funding of €2.2 million was provided earlier this year to the HSE to meet increased demands posed by Covid-19 by improving its psycho-social responses.
New approaches, such as those reflected in Sharing the Visionand Connecting for Life,advocate a cross-departmental, whole-of-Government approach to delivering these policies.
While mental health care should be provided at the lowest possible level, not all mental health issues can be dealt with in the community. In-patient and residential care has, and will continue to have, an important role. The new 170-bed hospital complex in Portrane will replace the Central Mental Hospital at Dundrum (93 beds) with a modernised National Forensic Mental Health Service. I am glad to say that the new legislation to open the new forensic mental health service in Portrane, which will become operational in 2021, was passed by the Oireachtas earlier this week. Additional bed capacity for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) will be provided at the new hospital in Portrane, and at the new National Children's Hospital. We are also progressing improvements to other mental health infrastructure nationally.
In addition, the Department of Health and the HSE are finalising the 2021 HSE National Service Plan which will be published shortly. This will cover a comprehensive range of mental health service improvements - from promotion and early intervention to acute and forensic in-patient care to postvention supports at community level. It will also ensure that greater attention is given to better integration between mental health and other services within, or external to, the health sector.
On the legislative front, the Department of Health is nearing completion of an extensive overhaul of the Mental Health Act, 2001. The revised legislation will improve protection for the rights of all mental health service users, including provision for consent to treatment for 16-to-17 year olds in mental health services. The draft Heads of this legislation are expected to be finalised very shortly.
The Deputy can rest assured that I will continue to pursue improvement across all aspects of our mental health legislation, policies and services.