Press Release

Minister O´Malley highlights significant recent developments in mental health on World Mental Health Day

Mr Tim O´Malley, T.D., Minister of State with special responsibility for Mental Health, used the occasion of World Mental Health Day to highlight significant recent developments in the area of mental health. This year World Mental Health Day (today 10th October 2003) will focus attention on emotional and behavioural disorders of children and adolescents.

The development of child and adolescent psychiatric services has been a priority in recent years and there has been major improvements in the level of service provision. Between 1999 and 2002 additional revenue funding of €13.3m was allocated to provide for the appointment of additional consultants, for the enhancement of existing consultant-led multi-disciplinary teams and towards the establishment of further teams. A further €1.64m was allocated in 2003. “It is my intention to ensure that psychiatric services for children and adolescents, both in-patient and community based, will continue to be prioritised in the context of available resources,” said Minister O´Malley

The enactment of the Irish Mental Health Act, 2001 was a very significant achievement. The primary objective of the Act is to address the civil and human rights of the mentally ill. The Mental Health Commission, established in April 2002, will be the main vehicle for the implementation of the provisions of the Mental Health Act. It is an independent statutory body whose primary functions are to promote, foster and encourage the establishment and maintenance of high standards and good practices in the delivery of mental health services and to protect the interests of people who are detained for psychiatric care and treatment. Functions of the Commission include an independent review of patients detained involuntarily, the establishment of an Inspector of Mental Health Services and responsibility for establishing and maintaining a register of centres approved by it for the detention of patients suffering from mental disorder.

In recent months an Expert Group on Mental Health Policy was established by Minister O´Malley. The Group, chaired by Professor Joyce O´Connor, President of the National College of Ireland, will prepare a new national policy framework for the future development of mental health services. It is envisaged that the Expert Group will examine, inter alia: models of care, the respective roles of medication and complementary therapies, measures to reduce stigma, and psychiatric services for specialised groups such as the homeless, prisoners and children/adolescents. The Group is expected to consult widely with interested parties and to complete its work within 18 months.

In 2003 additional revenue funding of €7.600 million was provided for improvements in mental health services. The Minister explained that “the main development programmes for 2003 include: child and adolescent psychiatry, community-based services, hospital services, later-life psychiatry, suicide and suicide prevention programmes and the continuing support of the voluntary sector.”

The Minister acknowledged the very important work carried out be the voluntary agencies such as Mental Health Ireland, Schizophrenia Ireland, Grow, Aware and Irish Advocacy Network in providing support to those most vulnerable in our society and in promoting a positive attitude in the community towards mental health.