Press Release

Minister of State Lynch welcomes provision of €35m for mental health in Budget 2012

Kathleen Lynch TD Minister of State with responsibility for Disability, Equality, Mental Health & Older People today, Monday 5th December, welcomed the provision in Budget 2012 of an additional €35m for mental health services in line with the commitment in the Programme for Government. Speaking today the Minister said “my priority as Minister of State with responsibility for mental health is to further advance the implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’ – the Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy. This new funding will enable the HSE to enhance the multi-disciplinary composition of the existing adult and child & adolescent community mental health teams and focus on key priorities in mental health.”

“Clinical Care Programmes are being developed to manage the different strands of mental health conditions through well planned care pathways. Three priority areas have been identified – Eating Disorders, Early Intervention in Psychosis and Suicide Prevention. These programmes will be implemented largely through the enhanced Community Mental Health Teams. The measures on suicide prevention will also include roll-out of the Suicide Crisis Assessment Nurse (SCAN) initiative, improved response to deliberate self harm and training for GPs.”

The Minister continued “as 90% of mental health needs are dealt with at primary care level, the Government is committed to developing closer links between mental health services and primary care. In this regard part of the €35m will be used to increase the availability of psychological and counselling services in Primary Care. I am confident that these initiatives will ensure that people with mental health problems receive the treatment and after-care support needed to facilitate recovery.”

Minister Lynch also welcomed the additional funding of €55m to be made available for the Nursing Homes Support Scheme (“Fair Deal”) in 2012. She said: “this additional funding underscores the Government’s commitment to support access to quality long-term residential care for older people where living at home with community supports is no longer feasible. Approximately 4.5% of older people are in long-term residential care. These are among some of the most vulnerable members of our society and it is essential that, where it becomes necessary, the transition to long-term residential care is as anxiety free as possible”.

The Minister of State noted the challenges facing the disability services as a result of reduced resources in 2012. “An efficiency saving of 2% is being applied to the budget for disability services in 2012”, the Minister said, “but services will also have to make provision for savings in employment and procurement costs which are required of the health services as a whole next year”. The precise levels of savings required will vary depending on the profile of individual service providers and will be determined within the context of the HSE’s service planning process. Services will also have to meet anticipated extra demand from within their budgets in 2012.

“There is only one way forward for disability services in the current environment,” the Minister went on “and that is to accelerate the reform process, supporting more people with disabilities to live independent lives in the community with supports, providing them with a better quality of life and reducing our dependency on costly staff-intensive models of service. The forthcoming Value for Money and Policy Review of Disability Services will give important pointers in this regard,” the Minister concluded.