24/7 Limerick mental health unit will be operational next year

Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan

RECRUITMENT is well under way for a 24/7 mental health de-escalation unit which is scheduled to be fully operational in Limerick next year.

Confirmation that preparations are well advanced for the new unit and a community access support team came last Friday at a meeting of the Limerick Joint Policing Committee.

Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan said that the establishment of the de-escalation unit will be a significant step in addressing out-of-hours mental health concerns.

“Currently, mental health concerns that occur in the evening hours are responded to, in the main, by volunteer organisations. These organisations do tremendous work. 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 for their selfless dedication.

“The Community Access Support Team (CAST) is a partnership approach to mental health between the HSE, paramedics and specially trained members of An Garda Síochána.

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“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,” Deputy Quinlivan explained.

“A similar trial in the north has proven to be quite successful with many people being treated away from the emergency department.  Emergency department attendance and capacity issues are at crisis point at University Hospital Limerick, so any service that helps a patient while diverting them from the hospital is very welcome.”

“Unfortunately, in Limerick, issues regarding mental health became even more prominent during the Covid pandemic when it was shown how under-resourced our mental health services are with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) overwhelmed with referrals.

“Mental health is as important as physical health. A mental health concern is as big an impediment to an active life as any physical injury. Like an injury, if the resources are provided, a mental health challenge can be addressed,”Deputy Quinlivan added.