Press Release

Minister O´Malley responds to report on mental health services

Mr. Tim O´Malley T.D., Minister of State at the Department of Health and Children with special responsibility for mental health, has welcomed the call today by the Irish Psychiatric Association for a new national mental health strategy. “This reflects a commitment in the Health Strategy, Quality and Fairness, to the preparation of a new National Policy Framework on mental health”, the Minister said. “Officials in my Department are already working on draft terms of reference for this work, which I hope to have carried out by an Expert Group, to be appointed before the Summer.”

Commenting further on the Irish Psychiatric Association´s report, The Stark Facts, published today, Minister O´Malley acknowledged that its findings highlighted areas of genuine concern with the mental health services. “I share the Irish Psychiatric Association´s disquiet about the historical inequities that exist in the funding of the mental health services”, he said. “However, it must be acknowledged that funding for the mental health services overall has increased significantly in recent years”.

In the period 1999-2002, an additional €70.7m revenue funding was invested in the mental health services. In the current year, additional revenue funding of €7.6m will be provided for on-going developments in mental health services, including the areas of child and adolescent psychiatry, psychiatry of later life, liaison psychiatry, suicide prevention initiatives, support for the voluntary sector for the development of advocacy services in Ireland.

Overall, about €190m in capital funding is being provided through the National Development Plan to facilitate the development of acute psychiatric units attached to general hospitals, as a replacement of services previously provided in psychiatric hospitals. The latest of these, at St. Luke’s Hospital, Kilkenny, opened its doors to patients on 5th March. There are now nineteen general hospital psychiatric units operational throughout the country. A further two units will become available to their mental health services in the near future, two more are under construction and several others are at various stages of planning.

In relation to community facilities, there are now approximately 400 community psychiatric residences in the country providing over 3,000 places. This compares to 111 residences providing less than 1,000 places in 1984. As for day hospitals/day centres, there are approximately 2,000 providing over 3,500 places, compared with 39 such centres providing approximately 1,200 places in 1984.

“I am committed to improving the quality of care and service delivery in the mental health services and I will be seeking additional resources for this purpose during my term of office as Minister of State”, the Minister added.