€50m mental health investment is ‘first step’

MHR: It is critical the full €38m development funding is used for new developments

The allocation of an extra €50 million to mental health services in Budget 2021 has been described as a “positive first step” by campaigners.

The Chief Executive of coalition group Mental Health Reform (MHR), Fiona Coyle, said the commitment of new funds was an acknowledgment by the Government of the impact the Covid-19 pandemic was having on mental health.

She also said they represented “a positive step towards improving access to mental health services, in line with our new national mental health policy Sharing the Vision”.

“There is no doubt about the scale of the challenges facing our health services and within that our mental health service,” said Coyle, whose organisation represents more than 70 organisations working in the mental health sector.

Previously, MHR estimated that the Government needed to plough an additional €80m into the sector as services struggled to cope with increased demands caused by Covid-19.

With yesterday’s announcement falling short of MHR’s Pre-Budget submission by €30m, Coyle added that it was imperative the planned investment of €38m in new mental health services and €12m to supporting existing services led to increased capacity.

“It is, therefore, critical that the full €38m of development funding allocated to mental health is used exclusively for new developments,” Coyle continued.

“We understand that the cost to the Health Service Executive of maintaining existing levels of mental health services for 2021 may be well beyond the €12m set out by the Government.

“Development funding cannot be used to shore up those gaps, as has happened consistently in the past.”

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