Press Release

Minister Tim O’Malley highlights significant developments in 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, today (29th August 2006) reported on a number of recent developments in mental health services.

“A very significant development within the area of mental health service provision has been the decision to enact in full the provisions of the Mental Health Act 2001. The Commencement Order to facilitate the bringing into operation of all remaining provisions of the Act on 1 November was signed recently. The Mental Health Act 2001 provides a modern framework within which people who have a mental disorder and require treatment or protection can be cared for and treated. The provisions of the Act that will commence on 1st November include the establishment of Mental Health Tribunals, under the auspices of the Mental Health Commission. In addition, the Act empowers the Minister to make regulations specifying the standards to be maintained in all approved centres. These Regulations are currently being drafted and will be enacted shortly. This is a very exciting time in the history of mental health services in Ireland. I look forward to the full implementation of the Act, which will have a major positive impact on the lives of a vulnerable group in our society”.

“Another major development was the publication of “A Vision for Change” – a new National Policy Framework for the mental health services which was published on 24th January last. The Report provides a framework that outlines a set of values and principles that will guide both Government and service providers in developing a modern, high quality mental health service over the next 7 – 10 years. The recommendations in the Report have been accepted by Government as the basis for the future development of our mental health services. The main priorities of the National Mental Health Directorate of the Health Service Executive for 2006 is the implementation of the Mental Health Act and the establishment of additional multidisciplinary community mental health teams and the enhancement of existing teams in line with the recommendations in A Vision for Change“.

“In March 2006, I appointed an independent Monitoring Group to monitor progress on the implementation of the recommendations in A Vision for Change. In addition, the Health Service Executive recently established an Implementation Group to ensure that mental health services develop in a synchronised and consistent manner across the country and to guide and resource service managers and clinicians in making the recommendations in A Vision for Change a reality. Both of these Groups will play an important role in ensuring that the recommendations of“A Vision for Change are implemented in a co-ordinated and timely manner”.

“In providing approval for the re-development of the Central Mental Hospital to a new site at Thornton Hall, the Government approved the proposal that Exchequer funding be provided, on the understanding that the State will be recouped the costs involved when the existing site at Dundrum is sold. Any balance of funds remaining after the completion of the new hospital will be allocated to other capital developments within the health services, particularly in the community mental health services. The Government also agreed that a new governance structure will be put in place for the Central Mental Hospital in advance of its move to the new site”.

“‘Reach Out – A National Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention 2005 – 2014’ was launched in September 2005. Four levels of action comprise the main body of the Strategy i.e. – general population approach; targeted approach; responding to suicide; and information and research. The Health Service Executive Population Health Directorate established a National Office for Suicide Prevention, responding to one of the actions in Strategy for Action on Suicide Prevention. The role of the office is to coordinate suicide prevention activities across the State, consult widely in relation to the planning of future initiatives and ensure best practice in suicide prevention. In 2006, €1.2 million has been allocated to the HSE specifically for suicide prevention initiatives. The actions being developed include a national health promotion campaign, training and awareness programmes and the production and launch, in conjunction with Irish Association of Suicidology and Samaritans, of Media Guidelines for the Portrayal of Suicide”.

“This year, in the region of €800m revenue funding will be spent on mental health services, which includes an additional €25 million development funding (excluding the €1.2 million allocated for suicide prevention initiatives). These developments represent a major step forward in the enhancement of our mental health services.”