Mental health services need extra €80m to cope with Covid-19 pressures

Mental Health Reform’s Pre-Budget 2021 submission calls for additional funding of mental health services

Fiona Coyle, Mental Health Reform (MHR) CEO

The Government needs to plough an additional €80 million into Ireland’s mental health services to help the system cope with increasing demands for treatment as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The call for more funds was made by Mental Health Reform (MHR), a coalition which represents 75 organisations in the community and voluntary sectors, in its pre-Budget 2021 submission.

MHR said its members were reporting that thousands of more people were seeking mental health support during the pandemic and, as a result, there was an urgent need to boost capacity across the sector.

Specialist mental health services like Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services had also witnessed significant increases in referrals since the outbreak began, the charity added.

MHR Chief Executive Fiona Coyle said part of the problem was successive governments failing to provide adequate resources for Ireland’s mental health services.

“Even before the pandemic, thousands of people were struggling to access the basic mental health supports they need, when they need them,” Coyle noted.

“The Health Service Executive has said that the impact of Covid-19 has led to a significant increase in the number of referrals to mental health services, as people across the country begin to feel the impact of the isolation, loneliness and anxiety this pandemic has caused,” she continued.

“Ireland’s mental health services need to be prioritised and placed at the very heart of Covid-19 recovery planning,” she said.

Coyle added that that without significant investment, thousands of adults and children across Ireland would not get timely access to treatment.

“This could risk putting Ireland on track for a serious public mental health crisis, as warned by both the United Nations and the World Health Organisation,” she said.

Turning to the 10-year mental health strategy, Sharing the Vision, unveiled by the Government in June, Coyle added: “This strategy provides a strong roadmap to support our services through this difficult period, but it will need significant investment if it is to get the good start it needs.”

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