Press Release

Minister O´Malley addresses the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy Consultation Day

Mr Tim O´Malley TD, Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children, today (27th April 2004) addressed the Consultation Day hosted by the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy.

“The National Health Strategy, Quality and Fairness – A Health System for You, recognised the need to update mental health policy to take account of recent legislative reform, developments in the care and treatment of mental illness and current best practice. The Strategy gave a commitment that a national policy framework for the further modernisation of the mental health services would be prepared, updating the present policy document Planning for the Future which was published in 1984″ the Minister stated.

The establishment of an Expert Group to undertake the task of preparing the national policy framework is a very significant milestone. The Group is chaired by Professor Joyce O´Connor, President of the National College of Ireland. Other members of the Expert Group include representatives of the medical, nursing and paramedical professions, voluntary bodies and mental health service users, therefore encompassing a wide range of knowledge and a balance of views on many issues affecting the performance and delivery of care in mental health services.

Enormous strides have been made and continue to be made in developing a service which is comprehensive, community-based and integrated with other health services. Since 1997 additional revenue funding of more than €90m has been provided for on-going developments in mental health services, to develop and expand community mental health services, to increase child and adolescent services, to expand the old age psychiatry services, to provide liaison psychiatry services in general hospitals and to enhance the support provided to voluntary agencies.

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. The Minister said “During my term of office as Minister of State with special responsibility for mental health, I am endeavoring 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.”

The Minister also spoke about the development of advocacy services in Ireland saying “This is a very recent occurrence, but it is another example of the significant improvements which are taking place in the provision of mental health services. It can be a mechanism for changing attitudes of the public and media towards mental illness and those experiencing it.”