Written answers

Thursday, 31 March 2022

Department of Health

Mental Health Services

Photo of Maurice QuinlivanMaurice Quinlivan (Limerick City, Sinn Fein)
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24. To ask the Minister for Health the progress that has been made regarding the establishment in Limerick of the trial 24-7 mental health de-escalation unit scheduled to commence in quarter 3 of 2022; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [15886/22]

Photo of Mary ButlerMary Butler (Waterford, Fianna Fail)
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The Community Access Support Team (CAST) is a partnership approach between HSE Mid-West Mental Health Services and An Garda Síochána (AGS) Limerick Division.

The work was initially instigated on foot of recommendations made in the Future Commission of Policing in Ireland Report 2018 to examine issues relating to people with mental illness who come in contact with the criminal justice system. The report recommended the establishment of multi-agency Crisis Intervention Teams (CIT), with round the clock response capabilities, throughout the country.

These teams have become a globally recognised model within contemporary policing for safely and effectively assisting people who experience a mental health crises or related problems within the community. The CIT model promotes strong community partnerships among policing bodies, health professionals and appropriate follow-on support agencies.

A steering group was nominated in Limerick by the Chief Superintendent AGS and the Chief Officer of the HSE. Steering group membership included the following – Superintendent AGS; Sergeant AGS; Executive Officer AGS; Head of Service, Mental Health, HSE; Executive Clinical Director HSE; Consultant Psychiatrist; Area Director of Nursing, HSE and Assistant Director of Nursing, HSE. The steering group met 12 times over the past 12 months.

The Limerick Steering Group were tasked with considering the potential of this type of intervention in the Irish context with the two key agencies being HSE Mental Health Services (Mid West) and An Garda Síochána Limerick Division. The work of the group has involved a review of the presentations to both agencies and an examination of the cross over in presentation. The group also engaged with people with experience of engagement with AGS at times of mental health crisis to understand how a new approach might better this experience. The AGS members of the group had significant engagement with Policing Departments in other jurisdictions to understand how this type of approach worked in those geographies – this included the US and Northern Ireland.

The progress of the steering group was delayed by the significant pressures on frontline services associated with several COVID surges. However, the steering group met last Friday (March 25th) and the final proposal for a pilot project was to be submitted to the project sponsors last Monday (28th March). The steering group await the outcome of the proposal.


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