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We must keep mental health on agenda until promises are turned into progress

I refer to your editorial of the 26th March, in relation to the events surrounding the 1916 Rising and subsequent progress of the Irish State. 

Sadly, mental health services is one area we as a people can take no pride in. Since the foundation of the State in 1922 mental health services have been plagued with neglect, underfunding, with a continuing “out of sight, out of mind” attitude, reminiscent of the Victorian era, and where and if any progress is achieved, it is only through public embarrassment of government/HSE into action through the exposure of that continuing neglect.

In 2016 the Republic will commit around 6% of its health budget to mental health services while the British taxpayer will commit around 12% of the Northern Ireland NHS budget to mental health services north of the border. As former minister Kathleen Lynch recently revealed, the €35m committed to the rollout and enhanced community mental health services in 2016 in line with AVRC ( A Vision for Change) was to be withdrawn by the current Government until she threatened to resign in protest.

In Kerry in 2015, 16 children and minors were admitted to adult mental health services due to the non-existent inpatient child and adolescence services in the county. These children, and hundreds more throughout the State with mental health issues, are not being cherished equally as envisaged in the 1916 Proclamation.

One of the more positive aspects of Election 2016 was mental health services, or the lack thereof, finally got on the political agenda for the first time in a general election in Ireland, with many finally prepared to speak out or stand up and be heard. There is a need to keep mental health as an issue out there and up front until political commitments and promises are turned into tangible progress on the ground through increased funding and resources.

The next government will have to be browbeaten, begged and even shamed into giving mental health the funding and priority it so desperately requires and deserves.

Cormac Williams,

Psychiatric Nurses Association,

Co Kerry


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