Macra’s Rural Youth Committee has expressed outrage and disappointment that some of the €35m increase in funding for mental health services this year will be moved to other areas.
The funding will be transferred back in 2017, Health Minister Leo Varadkar has said, but Cara O’Mahony, chairwoman of the committee, said the move was disappointing.
“This action, in the face of the increasing work that’s being done to get people to open up about their mental health issues, pushes an important problem into the background,” she said.
“We are very fortunate in this country to have so many charities, including Macra, doing fantastic work for mental health.
“This move shows blatant disregard for consolidated effort from voluntary groups across the country to support some of our most vulnerable citizens.”
Macra national president Seán Finan said: “There are so many people out there suffering with mental health difficulties that this is unacceptable and needs to be reversed.”
Mr Varadkar insisted that almost €792m will still be allocated to mental health services this year.
He said the €35m was earmarked to provide an extra 1,550 staff for mental health, but as these positions could not all be filled from January 1, the savings would be transferred elsewhere.
He added: “€35m will be fully provided for in the base budget for next year. And the key task is to ensure we get best value from this investment, and to make sure it benefits the greatest number of people possible.”
Macra na Feirme has been recognised as an exemplary outlet for rural young people and continues to work on positive mental health through promotion of its six key programme areas: Travel, sports, public speaking, performing arts, community involvement, and agriculture.
The main aim of the Rural Youth Committee is to develop Macra’s role and image as an organisation for all young people.
At last year’s Macra Rally in the Rochestown Park Hotel, Cork, the committee hosted a Lets Talk seminar.
Speakers on the day included Macra members Paddy Hipwell, who spoke and read out his poem ‘Footprints in the Sand’ and Ellen Downey, a See Change ambassador from Mitchelstown Macra.
See Change is an alliance of organisations working together through the National Stigma Reduction Partnership to bring about positive change in public attitudes and behaviour towards people with mental health problems.
Green ribbons were distributed and at the end of the seminar, each person wrote a negative thought on an eco-friendly luggage tag which was then attached to a green balloon.
Everyone gathered at the front of the hotel and released the balloons and let go of their negative thoughts.
Next month, the committee is organising a cycling weekend.
The event will kick off on Friday, May 27, in Murrisk, Co Mayo, and will finish up in Keel, Achill Island, on Saturday, May 28.
More information on the trip is available from Lisa on 087 1257628.
Meanwhile, Macra has also compiled a positive mental health guidebook for the rural LGBT community alongside GLEN, the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network.
A new Rural Youth Committee will be elected at the Macra Rally in Tipperary next month.
To find out more, check out ruralyouthcommitteemacra or macranafeirme on Facebook or @MacraRuralYouth on Twitter.
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