by Bernie English
A SPECIAL mental health task force will be established in Limerick next year to help people in crisis.
Made up of mental health professionals, paramedics and specially trained gardaí, the Mental Health De-Escalation Team will be tasked with responding to out of hours calls regarding mental health concerns.
The team will contact the concerned party, triage them and either treat them or refer them to an appropriate service provider. A group from the University of Limerick will assist in evaluating the project which is being introduced on a pilot basis.
Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan welcomed confirmation he received in response to a Dáil question that the pilot scheme would be in place and operational next year.
“Unfortunately, in Limerick issues regarding mental health have increased over the course of the pandemic which has further exposed how under resourced our mental health services are.
“A mental health concern is as big an impediment to an active life as any physical injury. But like a physical injury, if the resources are provided, a mental health challenge can be addressed.”
“In Limerick we have seen the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) overwhelmed with referrals. On many occasions, voluntary organizations have stepped up and done an incredible job supporting those in need.
“While there are many groups, I would like to particularly commend the work of the volunteers at the Haven Hub, Limerick Suicide Watch and Limerick Treaty Suicide Prevention.”
The Sinn Féin Deputy spoke on the devastating outcomes that untreated mental health issues can have.
“The outcome of a failure to treat mental health issues is too often sadly suicide. In my home county, Limerick, we have lost too many, often young, people to suicide. The sound of a helicopter over the River Shannon is the signal that, tragically, another life has been lost, another family has been devastated by suicide.
“As such, any project or scheme that can alleviate pressure on these organisations while delivering care to those who need it should be welcomed and supported.”
He said that if the team behind the project are properly staff and supported, the pilot scheme can work.
“At the moment if a person suffers a mental health crisis outside of office hours, it is very difficult to get support. This scheme could be a game changer in that regard,“ he added.