Act to avert national mental health crisis, campaigners warn

The current public health crisis could create a crisis in mental health — Irish campaigners

Fiona Coyle, Mental Health Reform (MHR) CEO

The Government must implement its revamped mental health strategy as soon as possible to prevent the current public health crisis from creating a crisis in mental health, Irish campaigners have warned.

Mental Health Reform (MHR), the national coalition on mental health which represents more than 70 organisations, also stated it was imperative that the policy document ‘A Vision for Change’ was published as soon as possible so post-Covid-19 mental health planning could begin.

MHR’s Chief Executive Fiona Coyle said the current crisis was placing a significant burden on people’s mental health and well-being and this would continue well into the future.

“The pandemic is already resulting in increased demand for mental health services and supports across the country,” she said.

“If the public health crisis is not to give way to a national mental health crisis, it is imperative that the Government prepare for a surge in demand for mental health services and this should be reflected in the prospective Programme for Government.”

Last week, Irish Medical Times (IMT, 28/05/2020, ‘TDs: Publish new mental health strategy document’) reported that a cross-party group of TDs had signed a joint letter to Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly, calling for the immediate publication of ‘A Vision for Change’.

The letter was signed by James Browne, Fianna Fáil; Pat Buckley, Sinn Féin; Róisín Shortall, Social Democrats; Ossian Smyth, Green Party; and three Independents Mattie McGrath, Denis Naughten, and Carol Nolan.

“To support preparation and planning to protect people’s mental health in the months ahead, the Government must immediately publish the refresh of ‘A Vision for Change’, Ireland’s new national mental health policy, and appoint an implementation group for this policy, capable of developing a mental health recovery plan for the country,” Coyle continued.

“It is also essential that the Government commit to protecting mental health funding and invest in services so that they are quick and easy to access for people, if and when they need them.”

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