Fianna Fáil: Govt Mental Health Policy Is Failing

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne TD has accused the Government of causing what could be irreparable damage to mental health services for allowing them to slip down the priority list.

Deputy Browne was speaking ahead of his Party's Private Members Motion on mental health services, which takes place later this evening, 02 July.

"Fianna Fáil decided to bring forward this motion following the recent publication of the Mental Health Commission's annual report and the report from the Inspector of Mental Health Services, both of which contained very stark and worrying findings," said Deputy Browne.

"These reports identified real problems with governance and management deficits within our mental health services, as well as issues with seclusion and physical restraint in services for young people. Last year 84 children and teenagers were admitted to adult units, up from 68 in 2016. This is a worrying development, that is contrary to best practice, and which can impact on the outcomes of these young people because adult units are simply not equipped to deal with their needs.

"Staffing levels remain a serious concern, with services in some parts of the country having fewer than half the recommended number of staff required for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services set out under A Vision for Change. This has a huge impact on waiting lists, with the most recent figures revealing more than 2,600 children and young people on the list for an appointment, and over 300 waiting for more than a year.

"Early intervention for children with mental health issues is critical. But for children with an intellectual disability such as autism or Down Syndrome, who also have mental health issues, a lack of early intervention is nothing short of cruel. According to the latest figures, there are currently three CHO areas which have no staff for Children Mental Health Intellectual Disability services.

"A new sense of urgency needs to be brought to addressing the deficits in children's services in particular. Otherwise the requirements set out by A Vision for Change will never be realised," concluded Deputy Browne.

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