Sinn Féin spokesperson for mental health Mark Ward TD has called preliminary figures released to him through a parliamentary question on incidents of self-harm as worrying.5432 people presented to 15 hospitals with incidents of self-harm in 2020. Teachta Ward said “Self-harm is regarded as an indicator of serious mental and emotional distress, and repeated episodes may indicate suicidality so to see a continuing high rate of presentations to hospitals is very worrying.
“Preliminary figures released to me from a parliamentary question showed that 5432 people presented to 15 hospitals with incidents of self-harm in 2020. “This was an average of 15 presentations a day to hospitals for self-harm. “It is worth noting that the COVID-19 pandemic and associated measures to address it have led to an increase in individual and population level risk factors for self-harm and suicide. These include anxiety, social isolation, loneliness, sudden bereavement, job loss, economic uncertainty, substance misuse, fear of infection and restrictions on health activities and access to healthcare services
“In March 2020, the first month of the outbreak of COVID-19 in Ireland, there were 394 self-harm presentations to the 15 hospitals. The daily rate for self-harm presentations was 12.7. This rose to a peak of 16.3 in September 2020 just prior to more stringent public health measures. “I do welcome that there is no significant increase in figures with 2018 and 2019 but 5432 people presenting in 2020 is still way too high.
“It is crucial to have the availability of appropriate mental health services so people can access the care they need when they need it where they need it. “The €24 million in new spending for mental health announced by the Government does not go near far enough. “It could be some time before the impact of the pandemic on suicide and self-harm is assessed but we need to put measures in place now that will make a difference.