Speaking Notes for Minister Moloney for Launch of the Health Research Board’s ‘Reconnecting with life: Personal Experiences of Recovering from Mental Health Problems in Ireland’

I would like to thank: Mr Enda Connolly, Chief Executive, Health Research Board for the invitation to officially launch this Report – ‘Reconnecting with life: Personal Experiences of Recovering from Mental Health Problems in Ireland’.

The ethos of recovery from mental health problems lie at the very heart of our mental health policy ‘A Vision for Change’. Embodied in this Vision is a belief that individuals can reclaim their lives, live as independently as possible and be involved in society.

The key message I take from this study is that recovery is possible. It provides us with a new level of understanding of what mental health recovery is from the perspective of those recovering, and will in turn inform the development and planning of recovery-oriented mental health services in Ireland.

This study draws on the experiences of service users, to identify elements of person-centred, recovery oriented care in our mental health service, and also to identify those aspects of our mental health services which can impede recovery.

The study’s implications are presented in a way that will guide policy, services and practice.

The active involvement of service users is one of the most significant reforms that has taken place in our mental health services in recent years. Service users have a unique insight into the experience of mental illness and have a greater understanding of mental health needs and service needs.

Only recently, I launched the National Service User Executive’s ‘Second Options’ Summary Report of the National Service User Executive’s Survey of Members 2009. The results of the Survey were encouraging and the satisfaction level very high for some local service areas. I think the results show that we are getting it right in some areas and while there is scope for improvement, our services are moving in the right direction.

Since my appointment as Minister for State with special responsibility for Equality, Disability and Mental Health, I have been committed to the implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’. Now, four years on from its launch, I am aware that concerns have been expressed at the apparent lack of progress in implementation, and I accept that progress to date has been somewhat slower than anticipated. However, it is important to recognise that progress has, and is, being made particularly in the development of child and adolescent services, the forensic mental health service, the development of a mental health information system and, of course, in service user involvement.

My two priorities for 2009 were to get agreement on the funding of the mental health capital programme from the proceeds of sales of mental health assets and to ensure the appointment of a National Lead on Mental Health within the HSE to drive the implementation of a ‘A Vision for Change’. I am delighted that both these elements have been achieved and we can now move forward with renewed energy on our programme for the modernisation of our mental health service.

One of my priorities for 2010 is to address stigma associated with associated with mental ill health. We must eliminate social exclusion, stigmatisation and discrimination of the mentally ill and create a culture and environment where people in distress feel they can seek help from family, friends and health professionals. I will make an announcement on this initiative in the next few weeks.

Finally, I would like to thank the participants who took part in this study and shared their experiences. I would also like to congratulate Yulia and Donna and all those involved with this very worthwhile study.