Majella O’Donnell under fire over mental health fee comments

The College of Psychiatrists has expressed serious concerns that comments made by singer Daniel O’Donnell’s wife Majella about psychiatrists’ fees could “deter those in extreme distress from seeking support or help”.

In the press release, it stressed that public mental health services “are free at the point of delivery… and in general, people in acute mental distress will be seen as a matter of urgency”.

College president elect, Dr John Hillery, said: “While it is good to keep the highlight on improvements badly needed in some areas of mental health services it is important the general public having read coverage of some of the points attributed to Mrs O’Donnell will not be put off looking for help when it is needed”.

Ms O’Donnell, who has spoken openly about her depression, wrote an expletive-laden Facebook post at the weekend expressing disgust that a friend was told she would have to wait until February before she could see a hospital consultant.

If she were to attend a psychiatrist privately her friend faced a bill of €300.

“My friend is a young mother who has been feeling anxious, unmotivated, irritated and generally depressed. She is aware of it and has been on anti-depressants in the past.... She wanted to get to the bottom of why she feels this way... She phoned a psychiatrist to see if she could talk to someone professional and was told that, a) she would have to be referred by her GP, b) she wouldn’t be seen until at least February, and c) it would cost her €300 an hour for the psychiatrist.”

“What the fuck is that all about? I get so bloody angry at this kind of thing. Here is a young woman realising that she has a problem and is trying to do something positive about it and this is what the outcome is,” she said.

“She went back to her GP who once again prescribed anti-depressants, a stronger one this time, and that’s it.”


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