Irish Government’s Mental Health Policy Slammed

One year after the launch of the Irish Government’s new national mental health policy, there has been almost no progress on some of its key recommendations, psychiatrists have said. A Vision for Change, which was launched last January, marked the Government’s first mental health policy update in over 20 years.

According to the Irish Psychiatric Association (IPA), ‘for the first time in a generation, public and professional hopes and expectations were raised that at last, the political will to develop and support mental health services had arrived’.

Written by the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, the document, among other things, envisioned an active community-based mental health service, where the need for hospital admission would be greatly reduced.

However one year on, a survey by the IPA has found that there has been little or no progress. It highlights the fact that in a period of ‘unprecedented economic prosperity’, a ‘derisory €25 million’ of new monies was allocated to this area in the 2007 Budget.

This is despite the fact that A Vision for Change emphasised that a major programme of capital and non-capital investment in mental health services would be required to fulfil the report’s recommendations.

“Instead of development, this funding has been diverted away from frontline patients services. No capital programme, which is crucial to replace the crumbling and shoddy parts of the service, has yet been put in place”, the IPA explained.

It said that those affected by mental health problems ‘are close to yet another political betrayal’.

“The public, service users, carers and our organisation are angered, disappointed and cannot accept this lack of progress. We, together with service users and providers, now demand urgent political and administrative action. Failing that, we will seek electoral accountability”, the association added.