Press Release

Minister O’Malley addresses GROW Conference – “Catching the Spirit of Mental Health”

Mr. Tim O’Malley T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, today (Friday 18 February 2005) addressed the 14th National Conference of GROW in Kilkenny. The theme of this conference is “Catching the Spirit of Mental Health”.

“An event such as this provides an opportunity for me to acknowledge the importance and value of the work of your organization in highlighting and responding to the needs of those in our society who suffer from mental ill-health” the Minister said.

The Minister paid tribute to the success of the GROW recovery programme. “Your self-help meeting, at which the 12-step recovery programme is followed, provides those coping with a wide variety of mental and psychological illness, encouragement and hope in developing their full potential” added the Minister.

In his address, the Minister referred to the fact that for many years people with a mental illness were excluded from full participation in community life, as a result of widespread stigmatisation of mental illness. “Thankfully, there is now recognition of the right of each person to participate fully in the social, economic, political and cultural activities of their communities. Recognition of that right is vital if we are to build an inclusive society in which all of our citizens can contribute their experiences, talents and abilities,” the Minister added.

Minister O’Malley stated that the Government is committed to the provision of quality care in the area of mental health, to upholding the civil and human rights of those who suffer from mental illness and to encouraging measures aimed at combating the stigma that is often associated with such illness. “During my term of office as Minister of State with special responsibility for mental health, I am endeavouring to continue to accelerate the growth in more appropriate care facilities for people with a mental illness through the further development of community-based facilities throughout the country” said the Minister.

The Minister referred to the work of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy established in 2003 to prepare a national policy framework for the further modernization of the mental health services, updating the 1984 policy document Planning for the Future. The Expert Group has now completed an extensive consultation process which included consultation initiatives with various stakeholders, including users of mental health services. “I’m delighted that the Expert Group is placing the experience of service users at the heart of its work and that this experience will directly influence the ultimate recommendations of the Group. The Expert Group is expected to complete its work in mid 2005 and I look forward to receiving its Report” said the Minister.

The Minister acknowledged the very important work performed by voluntary organisations such as Grow in promoting a positive attitude in the community towards good mental health and wished them continued success in their work.