Low spend on mental health is criticised

The body representing the country’s psychiatrists has described spending on mental health as “scandalously low”.

Low spend on mental health is criticised

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland criticised the continued slow pace of the delivery of the national mental health policy, A Vision for Change.

As a percentage of overall health spend, the budget for mental health had reduced from 13% in the 1980s to 6.2% in 2015. It pointed out that the budget for mental health as a percentage of overall health spend was 12% in both Britain and Canada, with New Zealand at 11%.

A Vision for Change had recommended the spending here should gradually build up to 8.24% of the health budget, but the allotted time-frame had passed.

“This is a human rights issue and should be seen as such by anyone who cares about the health of our nation,” the psychiatrists’ professional body stated.

The college points out that mental illness causes both social and financial damage. Leaving aside the human costs to individuals and society, the cost to the nation was more than 2% of national output.

In its pre-budget submission, the college calls for the provision of community-based mental health teams for patients of all ages round-the-clock. It wants rehabilitation specialists and multi-disciplinary supports provided in all areas of the country and action taken to reduce marginalisation and substance abuse.

It calls for the revitalisation of school-based and community-based counselling psychological services for children and adolescents and the prioritising of staff recruitment and training.

The college’s director of communications and public education, Dr John Hillery, said the Government now had an opportunity to invest money and implement policies to support the mental health needs of vulnerable individuals.

“This can be achieved through investment and taxation that promotes community inclusion for people with mental health problems in their recovery in the short, medium and long term.”

Minister of state with special responsibility for mental health, Kathleen Lynch, said she was hopeful of getting €35m in the budget to “secure” mental health services. At this week’s meeting of the joint committee on health and children, Ms Lynch said 70 of the 107 multidisciplinary teams recommended by the Vision for Change for child and adolescent mental health services were in place.

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