Friday 19 October 2018

'Roadmap' for out-of-hours access to mental health services unpublished - nine months after minister's announcement

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Laura Larkin

Laura Larkin

A much-heralded “roadmap” for improved access to mental health services has yet to be published, nine months after it was first promised by the Government.

In February, then Minister for State with responsibility for mental health, Helen McEntee, confirmed work was “underway on a roadmap for improved out-of-hours access to mental health services”.

Her statement came after she received a petition of almost 12,000 signatures from Shari McDaid, on behalf of the Mental Health Reform, A Lust for Life, Uplift and Future Voices at Leinster House.

“I am now working with my Department and the HSE on a roadmap to achieve both 7/7, and in due course 24/7 access, to mental health services across the country,” she said at the time.

“Services for all adults and those under 18, are being developed in the light of significant new investment being made available for mental health, balanced against an acknowledged difficulty for the Executive in securing suitably qualified and experienced staff for this care programme. My objective, and that of the HSE, is to improve all aspects of mental health care nationally for all children and adults, including better access outside of normal working hours.”

Minister McEntee has since been moved to a new portfolio and was replaced with Cork deputy Jim Daly.

The In Our Hour of Need campaign has continued to campaign for progress in this area -the petition has now gathered in excess of 13,500 signatures.

In a statement Mental Health Reform said:

The #InOurHourOfNeed campaign already has over 12k signatures on Uplift.ie, calling on Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly, and the Minister for Health Simon Harris, to deliver 24/7 crisis mental health services.

"People dealing with a mental health crisis should not  be required to go to A&E in the middle of the night or during weekends, where they often face long waits and a lack of immediate specialist care.

“The delivery of holistic 24/7 community based mental health services can happen in different ways depending on the local area.

“One short-term improvement would be to ensure specialist staff are available through 7-day-a-week direct access mental health clinics, supported by around the clock telephone support. This system would be far more efficient than catering for all mental health crises through A&E, and could be rolled out nationally within one year.”

Independent.ie has contacted the HSE and the Department of Health for an update on when this roadmap will be published.

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