Speeches

Address by Minister John Moloney T.D., Minister of State with Special Responsibility for Equality, Disability and Mental Health at the opening of the Dean Clinic, Capel Building

Good morning everybody and thank you so much for your warm welcome. I would also like to thank the Board of St. Patricks for inviting me here today to officially open the first Dean Clinic and to congratulate everyone associated with this very worthwhile project.

More than 250 years ago, Jonathan Swift, known to Dubliners of his time as “The Dean” had the vision and humanity to bequeath his modest fortune to the founding of St Patrick’s Psychiatric Hospital. Swift saw the need to establish proper care, treatment and protection for sufferers of mental illness.

Those principles that guided Swift to find the best and most effective services and to promote and protect the right of those who suffer from mental illness, are just as relevant today, and should I believe, drive and motivate all those involved in the mental health profession.

The provision of Dean Clinics is just one element of the ambitious 5 – year strategic development plan entitled “Mental Health Matters”which was launched by St. Patrick’s in partnership with the VHI, and which will focus on both treatment and prevention, encompassing hospital and community based services.

Over the timeframe of “Mental Health Matters” St Patrick’s will focus on Service Delivery, Advocacy, Research and Training and Developing Service User Participation.

By 2013 St. Patrick’s will have developed new services in Child and Adolescent Services, Community Mental Health Support Centres, Mental Illness Recovery Centres, Multi- Disciplinary Assessment Service and Web- Based Mental Health Support.

The development of community services is a particularly welcome iniative and dovetails nicely with the underlying principles of ‘A Vision for Change’ – the Report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy, which provides the blueprint for the development of our mental health service. ‘A Vision for Change’ advocates the need for an active, flexible, community based service, offering assessment and evidence based, best practice interventions, as close as possible to where the service user lives. While it is recognised that acute hospitalisation will always be required for a minority, our policy envisions an expansion of mental health services options in local communities to deliver community based interventions that are accessible and effective in promoting recovery and re- integration.

The Dean Clinics will provide choice to the service user and will increase the availability of community based services. This is a welcome development as I believe that mental health services must be characterised and led by a partnership between all stakeholders. A comprehensive mental health care system requires that services at all levels work in an integrated, coordinated fashion for the benefit of all people with mental health difficulties.

We therefore need to ensure that the best possible support is provided to people with a mental illness regardless of the setting, and organise our services in a manner that can respond to their individual needs.

I should also take the opportunity to applaud St. Patrick’s on the decision to add a cocaine addiction programme to its addictive disorders service. This will increase the range of options in the landscape of treatment services in Ireland and in that regard is a welcome development. This decision reflects the reality of the changing pattern of drug use in our society. A Drugs Prevalence Survey carried out in 2006/2007 among 15-64 year olds, indicates a relatively low but growing prevalence of cocaine use principally among younger adults.

The issue of drug use in Ireland is addressed in the framework of the National Drugs Strategy which is co-ordinated by the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs. The overall objective of the National Drugs Strategy is to significantly reduce the harm caused to individuals and society by the misuse of drugs through a concerted focus on the five pillars of supply reduction, prevention, treatment, research and rehabilitation.

From a prevention point of view it is crucial that people understand the health issues, and other dangers, associated with experimentation and dabbling with cocaine. Cocaine use is linked to heart conditions and strokes and to various other physical complaints. Frequent or long-term use of cocaine can also have a powerful adverse effect on the user’s mental health.

I would also like to acknowledge the role of VHI Healthcare who has supported the development of mental health services in conjunction with St Patrick’s Hospital. VHI Healthcare has undertaken initiatives relating to the provision of funding to the hospital to develop current in-patient services, and extending cover to provide for clinical psychologists to support community based care. I also understand that an extensive information campaign reaching out to the community is forseen. I congratulate the VHI for the very welcome engagement in these service developments.

Finally, I would like to thank St. Patrick’s for inviting me here today and for giving me the pleasure to formally open the first Dean Clinic. I wish you all every success in the development and roll out of new treatment and prevention services.

I warmly acknowledge the commitment to develop the service and I look forward to the establishment of further clinics in other regions.

Thank you.