The last #GE16 word from the parties on ... Mental health and disability services

Question: Can you set out the initiatives you aim to target in the course of next government around the areas of mental health and disability services. 

The last #GE16 word from the parties on ... Mental health and disability services

Fine Gael: Simon Coveney - (Candidate in Cork South Central)

Despite the economic crisis we inherited, Fine Gael increased the budget for mental health by €160m between 2012-2016, a total increase of 20%. We will continue to provide further resources to ensure services reach people directly. We will publish a plan for the achievement of faster access to appropriate health services, which includes a focus on preventative medicine and detecting, extending youth mental health services, extending counselling services and the reduction of admission rates to acute units.

Greens: Eamon Ryan - (Candidate in Dublin Bay South)

We would require the Department of Health to oversee the full implementation and resourcing at national level of the policies of 2006 ‘Vision for Change’ into mental health care; the emphasis being on recovery as far as is possible and on facilitating full information and choice for patients around all forms of treatment including talking therapies

Care in the community should be provided and adequately resourced where possible with hospital admission as a last resort

We support the integration of access to psychotherapy, counselling and social care services into all Community Mental Health Teams and primary care teams, including the Child and Adolescent service

We should resource provision of early childhood and family interventions for families experiencing parenting difficulties

The appointment of a Mental Health Promotion Officer in schools is needed to provide mental/emotional health programmes

We would support nationwide implementation of the SCAN crisis response service for suicidal persons

Addiction services should be integrated with mental health care and social care.

We will begin implementation of mental health reform with an additional €35m per annum

We will increase disability allowance

We will legislate to recognise Irish Sign Language officially

We will offer employers incentives to employ people with disabilities

Will increase funding to disability services by 90 million per year

Labour: Tánaiste Joan Burton - (Candidate in Dublin West)

Labour in Government has provided approximately 1,150 mental health posts and expanded the Counselling in Primary Care service to reach over 13,500 people per year.

Our plan for the next five years:

Extend the free Counselling in Primary Care service to all 16-25 year olds, the most likely group to require urgent mental health intervention

Introduce additional training for GPs in mental health issues

Establish a permanent mental health awareness and advertising programme

Bring in a registration and licensing system for mental health professionals

Extend the opening hours of Community Mental Health Centres into the late evening and through the weekend

Develop a new service to address dual diagnosis (addiction and mental health)

RENUA Ireland: Paul Bradford (Candidate in Cork East)

On mental health we want to end the passivity where funds are ring-fenced for mental health and then never spent.

We intend to be passionate advocates for the rights of the intellectually challenged.

In disability RENUA Ireland believes that it is time to make rights for the disabled a reality.

This can only be achieved by ensuring people with disabilities have their rights vindicated in a manner similar to the role played by the Ombudsman for Children.

RENUA is proposing the following measures to enhance inclusion and to vindicate the constitutional rights of disabled citizens.

RENUA Ireland will set-up a new unit dedicated to people with disabilities under the aegis of the Ombudsman’s office.

This office will be provided with powers to hold local authorities and public bodies to account for their treatment of disabled citizens.

This will include reviewing the performance of the National Disability Authority. Citizens will have a direct right of appeal to the Ombudsman’s office.

RENUA Ireland will focus particularly closely on the role of local authorities in ensuring that the needs of their citizens are catered for.

The Barcelona Convention requires that towns and cities be made more disability friendly.

RENUA Ireland will task the new unit for disabilities with measuring the progress of local authorities by way of a league table outlining which authority is providing for inclusion and enhanced access.

Sinn Fein: Gerry Adams - (Candidate in Louth )

Sinn Féin has a vision for society in which all citizens, including those with disabilities, can play a full and independent part in all aspects of life. The outcome of Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labours austerity policies for people with disabilities and their families has been devastating. People with disabilities have among the highest levels of consistent poverty and remain more than twice as likely to be unemployed compared to the typical population. Sinn Féin joins with people with disabilities in resolving there will be ‘no recovery without us’. Our Prioritising Disability Inclusion document (https://www.sinnfein.ie/files/2016/DisabilityDoc2016.pdf) sets out our manifesto commitments to people with a disability. We will, amongst other measures, tackle poverty and financial hardship, provide a medical card to every child in receipt of the Domiciliary Care Allowance and introduce a secure medical card for adults with disabilities; increase the Disability Allowance, increase supports in childcare and education, tackle housing issues, and make all public transport wheelchair assessable. Mental health is another area in which successive governments have struggled to provide an adequate level of service. This is despite the fact that one in seven adults, have experienced a mental health difficulty in the last year. Sinn Féin will increase the mental health budget and by doing to will complete the rollout of Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurses; increase the number of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services teams and the inpatient child and adolescent beds and increase funding for Counselling in Primary Care.

Social Democrats: Ken Curtin - (Candidate in Cork East)

We propose in our manifesto a number of strategies for addressing fact that 13% of Irish people living with disability and/or mental health difficulties (CSO, 2012) are at significantly greater risk than non-disabled people of experiencing poverty, social exclusion, unemployment and lack of opportunity in education, training and retraining.

One of first actions the incoming government must take in promoting dignity and opportunity for people living with disabilities is to ratify UNCRPD as a matter of urgency. The Social Democrats also propose that ratification be followed immediately by development of a national implementation plan accompanied by monitoring, reporting and enforcement processes.

Other measures we are promoting include:

1. Ensuring that personal assistant and other individualised social care services are restored and improved so that the policy of independent living is honoured;

2. Ending barriers to disabled people entering or remaining within the paid work force.

3. Recognising extra costs of living for disabled people and helping them to stay out of poverty through a specific cost of disability payment.

We want to create a culture that eliminates stigma and that fosters a positive approach to mental well-being. We commit to delivering all aspects of the 2006 ‘Vision for Change’ strategy as a cornerstone of our mental health plan. Fully implemented, this strategy will not only be responsive to individuals suffering from mental health issues, but will also work to proactively equip people with basic tools to positively strengthen awareness of their own mental health and recognise when to seek help.

AAA/PBP: Paul Murphy (Candidate in Dublin South West)

The cuts to disability services by this government are some of the cruellest cuts that could be envisaged. All of the cuts should be reversed and investment should be made in independent living. The government should immediately ratify and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.

Specific investment needs to be made in mental health services. We support the calls of #Ourstateofmind campaign, namely: a nationwide school programme to build good mental health; access to 24/7 crisis supports; easy access to counselling; a right to advocacy support, to help people with mental health difficulties access services; and advance healthcare directives, to give people the right to make choices about their own mental health treatment.

AAA/PBP: Paul Murphy (Candidate in Dublin South West)

The cuts to disability services by this government are some of the cruellest cuts that could be envisaged. All of the cuts should be reversed and investment should be made in independent living. The government should immediately ratify and implement the UN Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disability.

Specific investment needs to be made in mental health services. We support the calls of #Ourstateofmind campaign, namely: a nationwide school programme to build good mental health; access to 24/7 crisis supports; easy access to counselling; a right to advocacy support, to help people with mental health difficulties access services; and advance healthcare directives, to give people the right to make choices about their own mental health treatment.

Fianna Fail: Billy Kelleher - (Candidate in Cork North Central)

Mental Health is an important area for Fianna Fail. We will address it in government through a number of measures and have earmarked an additional €187.5m for the area. We will:

· Establish a new statutory National Mental Health Authority to be charged with leading an all-out national programme to promote positive attitudes to mental health and to reduce the incidence of self-harm and suicide.

· The National Mental Health Authority will provide a focus on mental health through an organisation that has the treatment of mental ill-health and distress and the promotion of positive mental health as its sole focus. It will also provide definite ring-fencing of funding for our mental health services.

· We will also carry out a full review of what still remains to be achieved under A Vision for Change and will bring forward an updated plan for 2016 to 2026.

· Current levels of funding for our mental health services are insufficient to deliver the staffing levels envisaged by A Vision for Change. At approximately 9,316 WTE (September 2015), mental health staffing levels remain at circa 75% of what is recommended by A Vision for Change. We will increase staffing levels to the 12,000 required under the strategy.

READ MORE: The last word on ...

- The red line issues

- Health

- The economy

- The cost of living

- Welfare reform

- Law and order

- Housing crisis

- The EU and Brexit

- Vision for Ireland's future

Source: Answers supplied to irishexaminer.com as part of our #GE16 Q&A blog with participating parties/groupings running more than ten candidates.

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