Fianna Fáil TD for Roscommon-Galway Eugene Murphy has called on the Government to step up to the mark in terms of mental health funding.
Speaking in the Dáil on Tuesday evening during a debate on Mental Health during Private Members Business, Eugene Murphy said he wanted to ‘go off script and speak from the heart’ when he called for a ‘unity of purpose’ amongst politicians to deal with the shortfall of funding for mental health services.
You can view his speech here or read the contents below
Referring to the pain and suffering of people who have lost family members of friends through suicide Deputy Murphy said:
“When I engage in a debate about mental health in this chamber I think of Minister McEntee, I think about Deputy Buckley, I think about the people in the gallery, family members and friends and people in my constituency who have been affected by suicide. I sat in the living room of one of those families in my own constituency and the one thing which resonates with me is the mother of the young man said to me please variously fight with the Government to get funding- don’t get into the blame game…
“We as politicians need to have a unity of purpose when it comes to tackling mental health issues- it is time to step up to the mark- the Government must find the necessary funding to properly fund the services,” said Deputy Murphy.
The Fianna Fáil Deputy also noted that the party will be pushing for the Government to set out how exactly it intends on achieving full implementation of the country’s mental health strategy.
“We have made it clear that mental health spending can’t be put on the backburner, so it’s time for Fine Gael and their Independent colleagues to spell out their plan for mental health services. One key measure which we will be pushing for is the introduction of a multi-annual plan for the development of mental health services. Currently the Government allocates funding to mental health on a year to year basis. This is preventing long term planning and development from taking place. Instead there should be a multi-annual plan so that our mental health services can be developed with certainty,” said Deputy Murphy.
He went on to say that on Budget Day Minister for Health Simon Harris indicated that €35m would be invested in mental health services next year.
“However less than a week later Minister of State for Mental Health Helen McEntee outlined that just €15m of the allocation would be spent in 2017. This means that Government has essentially halved the funding earmarked for mental health services next year. This is despite the fact that there has been significant under-investment in mental health services in recent years. Staffing levels in child and adolescent services are currently 48% below recommended levels, while staffing levels across the board are 21% below target.
“Significant work is needed to bring our mental health services up to standard. This cannot be achieved without adequate funding,” concluded Eugene Murphy.