Cabinet approves publication of mental health ‘roadmap’

Minister for Health Simon Harris brought the policy before the Cabinet last Thursday

Fiona Coyle, Mental Health Reform (MHR) CEO

The Cabinet has approved the publication of a policy document which will set out Ireland’s mental health policy for the next 10 years.

‘Sharing the Vision – a Mental Health Policy for Everyone’ replaces ‘A Vision for Change’, which ended its 10-year term in 2016.

The policy was presented to Cabinet by the Minister for Health Simon Harris last week (Thursday, June 4).

The decision to publish follows recent calls from TDs and campaigners to have the new strategy document included in talks to form a new government.

Welcoming the Cabinet’s decision, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, said the new strategy provided a decade-long “roadmap” for mental health services and would help officials respond to increasing demands on services “in new and imaginative ways”.

“I am confident that this policy will change lives for the better and I intend to publish it in the coming week,” Daly added.

‘Sharing the Vision – a Mental Health Policy for Everyone’ was the result of a national public consultation process involving 1,200 participants.

Minister Jim Daly

Service users, family members, carers, peer workers and clinical staff shared their views on the provision of mental health services with Health Service Executive management and the representatives from the voluntary sector at meetings across Ireland.

Submissions were also made to the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Mental Healthcare in Ireland.

“‘Sharing the Vision’ is indeed a timely mental health policy for everyone,” A Department of Health spokesperson said.

“It comes at a time when Covid-19 has impacted so negatively on the nation’s mental health. It speaks about protecting health and well-being, getting appropriate care quickly and seeks that services provided be quality assured and safe.”

National campaign group Mental Health Reform (MHR), which had recently been calling for publication of the new strategy, said it was imperative the document was approved as soon as possible so it could be considered in Government formation talks.

MHR’s chief executive Fiona Coyle said: “We welcome the important step taken by the Government last night in approving Ireland’s new national mental health policy.

“A policy that is fit for purpose is essential to delivering the mental health services that Ireland deserves. This decision shows the priority we need to give to mental health services including in the context of Covid-19.”

“We urge the Government to immediately publish this document as it is now essential that that this policy is sufficiently reflected and resourced in the prospective programme for Government,” Coyle added.

“We are at an important moment for the future of mental health services in Ireland. There is broad political consensus that we need to serve the mental health needs of the country better; yes, the vision must be a shared vision, and we must work collectively now to deliver.”

peter.doyle@imt.ie

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