'Clarity needed' on how much budget funding is for eating disorder services

'Clarity needed' on how much budget funding is for eating disorder services

Róisín Clarke, Interim CEO, Mental Health Reform outside Leinster House, Dublin taking part in Mental Health Reform’s Cost of Waiting campaign in August calling on the Government to invest €100m in the mental health services in the Budget. Picture Conor McCabe

The Government is being urged to show transparency on how the mental health budget for 2023 will be spent.

The call by Mental Health Reform CEO Róisín Clarke follows the budget announcement last  Wednesday, showing a rise of €72.8m for mental health services for next year.

Ms Clarke said: “The Government has committed €14m for new developments in mental health services but it is unclear how much of this funding will be invested in the development of eating disorder services. People with eating disorders and their families should be able to understand what services and supports will be available to them next year.” 

She added: “There is a worrying pattern of under-investment in eating disorder services. In 2019 and 2020, no new funding was allocated for the development these services. In 2018, the National Clinical Programme for Eating Disorders promised 16 specialist eating disorder teams over five years. To date, there are just three specialist eating disorder teams. If sustained investment had been made, these life-saving services could have progressed much faster.” 

She continued: “We know there has been a sharp rise in eating disorders since the pandemic. Referrals to St Vincent’s University Hospital in Dublin increased by more than 120% last year. Young people are also presenting more medically unwell with more severe clinical presentations than prior to the pandemic.” 

When the Irish Examiner asked the Department of Health for a breakdown of the mental health allocation for eating disorders, a spokeswoman said that the total allocation for mental health services in 2023 is over €1.2bn.

She continued: “This is another record budget for mental health services, which includes the greatest increase of €72.8m given in one year and demonstrates the commitment of the Government to this key care programme.” 

She added: “As occurs each year following the Budget, discussions will now take place with the HSE on details relating to specific service initiatives in the context of preparing the HSE Service Plan 2023, including that for mental health.” 

The response did not specifically reference eating disorders.

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