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General Election 2020: Make mental health a priority

We all know that the Irish health service is in a state of crisis, under-funded and overcrowded. But mental health services are even further behind other areas and the system cannot cope with the amount of people coming forward to access supports.

As voters, we all have an opportunity NOW to ask our general election candidates to prioritise mental health and to work to improve these services. But what exactly are the issues and what is the “ASK” when those candidates stop you at the train station or call to your door? 

Here Mental Health Reform outline the issues and give us some guidelines and tools to help us make a difference to mental health.   The more of us who support Mental Health Reform’s General Election 2020 Campaign, the louder our voices will be.  

The people of Ireland care about mental health. Now it’s time for General Election 2020 candidates to show that they are listening. 

This General Election must be one in which mental health is given priority.

The upcoming vote gives us the opportunity to create a Government that will ensure that mental health is given the priority it deserves to improve services and supports for everyone in Ireland. This Election is an important opportunity for voters to ask local candidates to pledge to improve mental health services and supports and to hold them to account.

We know that Ireland’s mental health services have suffered from years of significant under-investment, staffing shortages and access difficulties. 

Current Status Quo:

  • Almost 10% of the Irish population over age 15 has a ‘probable mental health problem’ at any one time;
  • Young Irish women are experiencing the highest levels of moderate to severe symptoms of depression compared to the EU average;
  • Ireland has the second highest suicide rate in Europe for young people aged 15-19.

The impact of this lack of priority is seen in Ireland’s Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across the country:

  • In 2008, there were 10,476 (WTE) staff in mental health services yet today there are just 9,823;
  • Referrals to CAMHS increased by over 40% from 2011 to 2019;
  • The waiting list for a first appointment with CAMHS has remained in or around 2,000 children since at least 2016.

 

The “ASK”

It is really important to ask the electoral candidates in your constituency how they will address the crisis in mental health services and to explain to them some of the key ways the crisis can be addressed. Some useful questions you could ask include:

 

3 Key Priorities

It is really important to ask the electoral candidates in your constituency how they will address the crisis in mental health services and to explain to them some of the key ways the crisis can be addressed. Some useful questions you could ask include:

You may find this Mental Health Manifesto a useful resource to learn more about the issues in Ireland’s mental health services and points to consider when choosing who you are voting for in the General Election 2020.

There are three main pillars of the Mental Health Manifesto which need to be addressed by the next Government in order to improve mental health services and supports for everyone:

  • Invest in Ireland’s mental health services: Ireland’s mental health budget must move from the current 6% to at least 10% of the overall health budget, with incremental improvement every year.
  • Make mental health services accessible 24/7: A person’s mental health crisis can happen at any time, day or night. Currently, most services only open Monday to Friday, 9 am to 5 pm. This means that the only option open to those in crisis is to go to an Emergency Department (A&E) and wait, sometimes for 8-10 hours or more for help. We all know that an Emergency Department is an inappropriate environment for someone in acute distress.
  • Update Ireland’s mental health law to protect people’s human rights: Ireland current mental health law does not adequately protect people’s rights when they are in hospital for their mental health, especially the rights of children and young people.

 

What can you do?

 

The people of Ireland care about mental health. It’s time for candidates to show that they are listening.  Together, we can work to improve mental health services and supports for everyone in Ireland.

Mental Health Reform January 2020

3Ts are members of Mental Health Reform, the leading national coalition of organisations campaigning to transform mental health supports in Ireland.  We support Mental Health Reforms General Election 2020 Campaign.  You can too.  For more information see MentalHealthReform.ie/ge2020