A new 10-year roadmap for mental health services has placed greater emphasis on delivering care and support online and in the community.
The ‘Sharing the Vision’ strategy comes 14 years after the landmark ‘A Vision for Change’ strategy and has been described as “very ambitious” by outgoing Minister for Mental Health, Jim Daly.
The strategy, he said, would deliver services in “new and imaginative” ways such as digital initiatives and counselling and talking therapies for individuals presenting with mild to moderate difficulties.
A National Monitoring and Implementation Committee will oversee the implementation of 100 recommendations over the next 10 years.
Among the immediate priorities are the development of a national mental health promotion plan, mapping community and voluntary services across the country, reviewing facilities in hospital emergency departments, piloting crisis cafes, extending child and adolescent services to include young people up to 25 years of age and improving out-of-hours support.
Longer term recommendations include developing home-based crisis resolution teams as an alternative to acute admission, providing additional staff at day hospitals, developing intensive care, recovery and rehabilitation beds, dual diagnosis and homeless services, and assessing the mental health needs of the prison population.
Expert groups will also be set up to review acute admissions and bed usage and also to look at mental health supports in Direct Provision centres.
The strategy does not include any costings or details of staffing levels for the next ten years.
Minister Daly said funding was a “poor yardstick” for measuring services and the focus should be on better use of existing resources: “It’s not all about financial resources; it’s about better use of resources, it’s about a whole of government approach, it’s about sharing responsibilities across departments”.
The Minister said the Covid-19 pandemic didn’t alter the strategy's ambition. “People have used the word tsunami but we don’t have evidence of that to date. We’re still emerging from the Covid situation so we don’t know enough about the impact,” he added.
Chair of the Oversight Group that developed the strategy, Hugh Kane, said adequate resources will be required to deliver on the recommendations: “Care cannot be denied due to siloed working where individuals fall between services. Adequate resources, staffing, and settings are required, which are properly and effectively deployed and governed”.
Chief Operations Officer, HSE Anne O’Connor, said the strategy would see more integration of services at primary care level through community health networks: “It is about how mental health needs can be met at a community level in the first instance through primary care”.