Government accused of ‘throwing in towel’ on mental health

Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan. Photo: Mark Condren

A LIMERICK TD has accused the Government of “throwing in the towel” by not increasing the amount that is currently being spent on mental health.

Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan, who posed a parliamentary question on the issue of the spend, is also asking about what has happened to the Limerick mental health de-escalation unit which was promised to help people in crisis out of hours.

Deputy Quinlivan said the Government has failed to prioritise mental health spending “for the sixth year in a row.” The Limerick Deputy made the comments following the release of the HSE data through a parliamentary question.

“Once again the Government has failed to increase mental health spending in relation to the overall health budget,” the Limerick TD said.

“A recent parliamentary question response stated that the overall percentage of spending for mental health in the health budget remained at 5.8 per cent for 2024.

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“Over the last six years, we have witnessed a steady decrease in this figure. It stood at 6.3 per cent in 2019 of the overall health budgets spent on mental health. This year it is 5.8 per cent.

“We are heading in the wrong direction as international recommendations, and those set out in Sláintecare, for mental health spending are 16 per cent and 10 per cent, respectively, of the overall health budget.

“What we can gather from the (Health) Minister is that the National Clinical Programmes for Mental Health, which include those for eating disorders, self-harm, and suicide prevention, ADHD in adults, early intervention in psychosis, and perinatal mental health, will go a second year without additional funding. How can these vital programmes expand if they are not funded properly?

“In Limerick we continue to wait for the initiation of the 24/7 mental health de-escalation unit. This unit, a combined HSE, Garda, and ambulance service de-escalation service, is set to serve those who are facing mental health challenges outside of regular working hours. Unfortunately, the opening of this unit has been pushed back quarter by quarter over the last few years.”

Deputy Quinlivan warned that a lack of increased spending “will have knock-on consequences for the service provision, waiting times and the treatment of service users”.

“The Government has thrown in the towel on mental health,” Deputy Quinlivan concluded.