Press Release

Daly confirms successful outcome of recruitment drive for 114 Assistant Psychologists and 20 Psychologists

Minister with Special Responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly TD, today confirmed that a recently launched recruitment process for the appointment of 114 Assistant Psychologist posts and 20 Psychologist posts in Primary Care is nearing completion, and that almost all posts have now been filled.

These posts are being supported from dedicated funding of €5m and are delivering on the Government’s commitment to develop early intervention mental health services for those under 18.

“We know over half of all mental health disorders emerge by the time someone reaches their mid-teens, with three-quarters emerging by the age of 25. Psychology services in primary care settings can play a key role in promoting good mental health, and developing those continues to be a priority for me and for the Government. I am determined to actively target early intervention and beef up our resources in this area, leaving acute services such as CAMHS for those who need them most. ” said Minister Daly.

“It is essential that adolescents and young people should be able to access primary services in their local communities and in a timely manner. Of course, those with more severe mental health difficulties will require referral to secondary care services,” continued the Minister.

While the Government acknowledges that waiting lists for counselling services for children in primary care are too high, the number of children waiting for services should now fall further as these posts, which have a geographical spread, start to make an impact on access times for services.

The HSE is also examining the scope for improved ways of working through a Service Improvement Initiative for Counselling in Primary Care. This will include standardised psychology protocols, consolidated contact points for referrals and providing assistance for users in accessing specialist health services. Other options to tackle waiting lists are also being pursued, including a computerised cognitive behavioural therapy programme. This programme utilises new technologies, delivering supports through weekly sessions based around a computer, with a healthcare professional as support.

In conclusion, Minister Daly said “I am also hoping to introduce a dedicated national mental health telephone and text line later this year along with a pilot Telepsych initiative that will deliver mental health treatment and therapies online. Funding of €910m in 2018, which includes €35m approved in Budget 2018, is an increase of over €200m since 2012. The Government will also add €55 Million to the budget next year to develop new initiatives.”

ENDS

Notes to the Editor

Primary Care psychology services have not kept pace with developments in secondary/specialist mental health services. One of the consequences of this has been an over-reliance on secondary care systems resulting in long waiting lists, not least in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

In recognition of the need, the Government has prioritised investment in this area. The HSE’s National Service Plan 2016 provided an additional €5m for psychology for children.

The 114 Assistant Psychologists, working under the direct supervision of a suitably qualified Psychologist, will deliver rapid access low intensity psychological interventions for those under 18 years of age, will support services and enhance the service provision and research capacity of qualified Psychologists.

The 20 staff grade Psychologists will provide services where inadequate numbers of posts exit. These additional posts will provide services to service users under 18 years of age to address those waiting for treatment in the Mental Health and Primary Care Divisions.

The funding also includes provision for a computerised cognitive behavioural therapy programme.