Local TD and Sinn Féin spokesperson for Mental Health Mark Ward TD has cautiously welcomed the inclusion of Mental Health in this year’s HSE Winter Plan, but has warned it does not go far enough.
Mental Health was omitted from last year’s Winter Plan. Teachta Ward said “Last year I was critical of the Government failing to mention mental health in its Winter Plan. This was despite being in the midst of a pandemic where peoples mental health was impacted. “I welcome that the Government took my advice and included Mental Health in this year’s Winter Plan. However, it does not go far enough.
“There is €1 million committed to Mental Health but there is no commitment for additional acute mental health beds. The plan calls for patients to be moved from acute beds back into community-based solutions. This will only work if there were adequate community-based solutions to begin with. “Years of underinvestment have led to community based mental health supports being eroded.
“There still is no 24/7 emergency mental health care outside of the emergency department. The HSE have announced that mental health liaison officers will be based in emergency departments. This is a move in the right direction but there is no clarity on what hospitals will have this service, what hours they are available and how long this service will be provided. “As long as there is no proper access to emergency mental health supports liaison officers will be needed, but they need to be comprehensive and widespread. This also needed to be extended past winter as mental health issues can arise at any time. “I have written to the Minister for clarification on these supports.