€35m cash for mental health

A LONG-AWAITED cash injection of €35m has been announced to strengthen and develop community mental health services, which have been under serious pressure.

The cash will also be used for a suicide crisis initiative, improved response to deliberate self-harm, and training for GPs.

The investment was broadly welcomed by national umbrella group Mental Health Reform, but it warned the money could be lost without the appointment of a directorate of Mental Health Services.

Minister of State Kathleen Lynch has previously spoken about setting up such a directorate.

Director of Mental Health Reform Orla Barry said it is “crucial” that this additional money is used to develop community mental health services and protected in such a way that it cannot be used for anything but the development of community mental health teams. “We fought long and hard for this money,” she said. “Let us ensure it is used for its intended purpose.”

In a statement yesterday, Ms Lynch did not mention the directorate.

The Psychiatric Nurses Association welcomed the announcement but pointed out that an overall cut of 2% in the mental health budget will have the net effect of reducing that €35m to €21m in additional funding for 2012.

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