The impact of Covid-19 on mental health is leading to a 'serious crisis' according to a Dundalk Councillor.
'Grief, social isolation, emotional distress and indeed anxiety have become part of everyday life during COVID19,' said Cllr Seán Kelly, who highlighted the issue at the monthly meeting of Louth County Council.
'We face a serious crisis in mental health when this pandemic is over, in fact it's the next pandemic we face. The Mental Health Reform group have said the number of people who suffer from some form of mental health illness will increase from 1 in 5 to 1 in 3.'
Cllr. Kelly put forward a motion to Louth County Council, with the aim of 'leading the charge in this fight, and to establish a special taskforce with all relevant stakeholders and agencies to combat the incoming crisis and encourage positive mental health and well-being.' He added: 'Following the advice of CEO Joan Martin that the HSE would be best placed to lead this taskforce, I have now written to local HSE management and asked that they take the lead on this as a matter of urgency.'
Meanwhile Dundalk TD Ruairí Ó Murchú also raised concerns about the impact of the pandemic on mental health, at the Dáil's Covid-19 Committee last week.
Deputy Ó Murchú highlighted how 'just seven percent of annual health funding is spent in the State, while the World Health Organisation recommends 12%.' He noted that there had been an increase in web-based mental health services offered during the lockdown, but these are 'limited by geography and internet access' and those who are 'impacted by adverse childhood experiences and older people' are not able to access the 'escape of work or school'.
He also raised the issue of 'dual diagnosis', where people who are struggling with mental health problems and who also have addiction issues are 'falling between services, as are those with behavioural problems and it is the case at the moment that Gardaí are having to deal with those.