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College of Psychiatrists call for greater investment in mental health services

The College of Psychiatrists of Ireland has called on the Government to show their commitment financially to mental health service delivery and development in the upcoming 2021 Budget.

The call was made to mark World Mental Health Day, which took place on Saturday 10 October.

According to the College, mental health funding has remained static and inadequate for too many consecutive budgets despite successive government intentions to prioritise it.

Many recent surveys, including a College survey, have indicated the negative consequence Covid-19 has had and continues to have on mental health. Now more than ever it is vital to invest adequately in mental distress and illness.

With the imminent announcement of the Budget for 2021, the College hopes that this Budget will finally break the chain of under-investment and show commitment and real concern for the mental health of the nation and for those vulnerable in society due to mental distress and chronic enduring mental illness. It is the only way to ensure mental health for all, with equity of access for everyone, everywhere.

The College of Psychiatrists pre-Budget submission once again points out that for more than ten consecutive years the percentage of the health budget for mental health and delivering on national policy has been scandalously low at 5 to 6 percent. As per numerous official documentation and investment in similar jurisdictions it needs to move to 12 percent of the budge,t which amounts to the current €1 billion mental health budget being doubled.

Commenting on World Mental Health Day ahead of the upcoming Budget 2021 announcement, Dr William Flannery, College President said:

“There has been much rhetoric and narrative around mental health, and particularly now on the consequences of Covid 19 on the nation’s mental health, but so far, not the funding to match. The winter plan as we have seen reported omitted an allocation for mental health and illness.

“While the myriad of issues are well known, there are many more solutions possible and well documented. But they need financial backing. We have ‘A Vision for Change’ and now ‘Sharing the Vision’ policies but no real commitment to the financial investment required to achieve the recommendations and development in both.

“It is very difficult for us as doctors who, along with our allied mental health professionals, know we can provide supports, interventions and treatments that work and can bring recovery and value to the lives of people with mental illness and distress, ultimately enabling them to be active citizens in all facets of society. But services continue to be chronically underfunded. It is very frustrating and demoralising for all but more particularly for those who use and need the services.”

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