The Government has been accused of “deliberately misleading” the public on the mental health funding announced in Budget 2018.
An ‘additional’ €35m was announced for mental health services in 2018, however, opposition parties have pointed out that this figure includes €20m detailed in the 2017 budget. This means there will only be an additional €15m in spending for 2018.
Junior Minister for Mental Health Jim Daly insisted the entire €35m is an increase but that part of it had been flagged in 2017 in order to assist the HSE in future planning.
“Last year, there was €20m announced for this year, we have actually done the same this year, we have announced €40m for next year, so if you were to apply the same logic, there would be an announcement of zero next year as we have already outlined the increase,” he said.
But Green Party deputy leader Catherine Martin said she was appalled by the repackaging of funds, adding that for years mental health has been the Cinderella of our nation’s health service.
“Mental illness has a shattering effect on families and communities. We must be relentless in defending our citizens with mental health difficulties.
"We have to ensure that even in times of financial constraints and pressures that our priorities are not blinded. I would urge the Government to review this decision. A mere €15m increase is a signal to our citizens with mental health difficulties that this Government is not listening and does not care.”
Sinn Féin TD Pat Buckley said he was disgusted that the Government “would claim to be prioritising mental health, while so clearly trying to fool the Dáil, the public, and campaigners”.
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