Tá­naiste de­fends men­tal health pledge

The Irish Times - - Home News - MARIE O’HAL­LO­RAN

Tá­naiste Frances Fitzger­ald has in­sisted bud­get fund­ing com­mit­ments on men­tal health are ac­cu­rate, as the Gov­ern­ment was ac­cused of “play­ing with the fig­ures”.

Sol­i­dar­ity TD Paul Mur­phy claimed the Gov­ern­ment played with the fig­ures in last year’s bud­get and was do­ing so again this year.

He said the an­nounce­ment of ¤35 mil­lion ex­tra in Bud­get 2018 was not hon­est be­cause “¤20 mil­lion of that was an­nounced last year. It is an ad­di­tional ¤15 mil­lion.”

He noted that the Gov­ern­ment sent a let­ter yes­ter­day to the coali­tion of cam­paign groups stat­ing the money would be given out and the Gov­ern­ment strat­egy A Vi­sion for Change would be im­ple­mented.

He said “I do not see the fig­ures adding up”, as he high­lighted the “ex­plo­sion of re­ported men­tal health prob­lems”. He noted stark fig­ures that 10 peo­ple die by sui­cide every week in the State, which has the high­est rate of sui­cide of girls in Europe.

Ma­jor de­ter­mi­nant

Mr Mur­phy said in­equal­ity was a ma­jor de­ter­mi­nant of men­tal ill­ness and “chil­dren from the poor­est house­holds have a three­fold greater risk of men­tal ill-health than chil­dren from the rich­est house­holds”.

The Dublin South West TD said be­tween 20 per cent and 25 per cent of over­all ill-health was caused by men­tal health prob­lems but that less than 7 per cent of the health bud­get went on men­tal health.

Ms Fitzger­ald said the men­tal health bud­get had in­creased by 28 per cent in six years, from ¤711 mil­lion in 2012 to ¤912 mil­lion in 2018, and she in­sisted the fig­ures were cor­rect. “Bud­get 2018 al­lo­cates an ad­di­tional ¤35 mil­lion to de­velop men­tal health ser­vices in 2018. The fig­ures pub­lished are ac­cu­rate.”

The Tá­naiste added that the Min­is­ter for Health and the Min­is­ter of State had also com­mit­ted an ad­di­tional ¤55 mil­lion for 2019. “This means a to­tal of ¤105 mil­lion in ad­di­tional fund­ing for A Vi­sion for Change”.

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