The new Programme for Government does not contain a detailed commitment to mental health funding, it has been claimed.
According to Mental Health Reform, while the programme does state that the mental health budget ‘will be increased annually during the lifetime of this new Government', there are no specific details on mental health funding.
Mental Health Reform is a national coalition of organisations which work towards promoting best practise and improving services for all people with mental health problems. It has 54 member organisations including Aware, the Alzheimer Society of Ireland, the Children's Rights Alliance and the Samaritans.
According to its director, Dr Shari McDaid, the coalition is disappointed that the Government ‘has not specified an amount of development funding for mental health per year over the lifetime of its term, as had been promised in both the Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil manifestos'.
She acknowledged that a number of commitments have been made which are to be strongly welcomed, including an intention to extend counselling services to people on low incomes and an intention to establish a National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health.
"It is clear from the range of mental health commitments made, that the new Government is beginning to understand the wide impact that mental health difficulties have on Irish society. But Mental Health Reform is extremely concerned at the lack of any commitment to end the inappropriate admission of children to adult wards and the absence of an immediate commitment to 24/7 crisis supports," Dr McDaid commented.
However, she welcomed the Government's intention to use ‘proceeds from the sale of older assets used for mental health services for new developments in mental health'.
Previously, funds raised from the sale of lands were used solely to fund capital developments in mental health, however the Programme for Government suggests that these funds may now also be used for new developments and new services in mental health.
"We welcome the commitment to retaining money from the sale of mental health service lands within the services. The sale of the Central Mental Hospital in Dundrum in Dublin, which is prime residential land, could potentially raise a significant amount of money for investment in mental health facilities and services," Dr McDaid added.