The College of Psychiatry of Ireland (CPsychI) has welcomed the recent budget announcement, that €35m is to be ring fenced for mental health, however it also expressed concern that the reduction in mental health staffing was “reaching crisis point”.
According to Dr Anne Jeffers, Director of External Affairs and Policy at the College “due to staff retirements and the moratorium on recruitment, staffing of mental health services is reaching crisis point. We know nurse and other mental health personnel are actively being taken from the community mental health services and teams and brought back to staff acute hospital services. This reverse migration is not only contrary to the recommendations in ‘A Vision for Change’ but counterproductive and therapeutically disastrous to those who have been availing of these Community Mental Health Teams.”
The College also welcomed the commitment by Government to increase the availability of psychological therapies, but again with caution. It said that in the absence of national standards for the accreditation or governance of counsellors and psychotherapists there was a danger of non-specific counselling being ineffective and counter therapeutic.
“We urge that we learn from international experience. Increasing counselling and psychotherapy has only been effective when introduced in the context of well developed Community Mental Health Teams, who work in collaboration with Primary Care,” said Dr Jeffers.
“It is also worth noting that one area of counselling that has been shown to be effective is guidance counselling in schools, however, educational cuts will result in a reduction in availability of guidance counsellors. Child and adolescent psychiatrists have identified this as putting young people at risk. This decision needs to be reviewed.”
The College also joined with a number of other agencies in the call for the immediate installation of a Mental Health Directorate, as recommended by ‘A Vision for Change’. “
“Only with this can we ensure services are developed in an equitable manner, and the €35m that is referred to so often is not lost in the system,” Dr Jeffers added.