Press Release

Health Minister supports Advocacy Network for Mental Health Service Users

Mr Micheál Martin TD, Minister for Health and Children, today (22nd January, 2002) launched a development programme for the provision of “Regional Advocates” by the Irish Advocacy Network at the Hillgrove Hotel, Monaghan. The Irish Advocacy Network is a network of mental health advocacy groups in various locations throughout the country.

Speaking at today´s launch, Minister Martin said “There is a need to generate greater public awareness and understanding of mental health issues and to change attitudes to mental illness among the general public and health professionals. In terms of the principle of people-centred health services, the strengthening of advocacy services is a priority”.

“This year €251,000 is being provided for the development of mental health advocacy services nationally. This includes funding for the Irish Advocacy Network to help develop a National Peer Advocacy framework together with a network of Regional Peer Advocates for mental health service users throughout the country” said the Minister.

Minister Martin referred to the Government´s Commitment under the Programme for Prosperity and Fairness (PPF) to assist initiatives to provide independent advocacy services for people who are involuntarily detained under the Mental Health Act, 2001. The Minister said “the development of the Irish Advocacy Network and the appointment of Regional Advocates is a major step forward in the development of advocacy services”.

Minister Martin also referred to the recently launched National Health Strategy “Quality and Fairness – A Health System for You” which included a commitment that mental health advocacy services will be encouraged and resourced.

The Minister paid tribute to those involved in the Irish Advocacy Network and said that the appointment of regional advocates will provide valuable practical assistance for people with mental illness and their families.