Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey has been appointed to serve on the special committee to advise the Government on the future of mental health care.
He is one of four Government representatives on the committee and will be joined by his constituency colleague Deputy Michael Harty who was nominated by the Rural Independent Group.
Stating that the appointment was recognition of his long-time interest in improving mental health services, Deputy Carey said that when people seek help for mental health issues, it is essential that good quality help is available.
“It’s more than ten years since ‘A Vision for Change’, the Government strategy document on the future of the mental health services, was published but, unfortunately, its recommendations have not yet been fully implemented. There is little doubt that now, more than ever, there is an increased demand for mental health supports and it is not acceptable that waiting lists are continuing to grow.
“Every effort must be made to reduce the waiting lists associated with routine referrals for children, teenagers and young people as these waiting times are now stretching into years.
“Significant positive participation has taken place through community initiatives, such as the Darkness Into Light and the Cycle Against Suicide movements. These initiatives are primarily driven by young people. In so doing, they are raising awareness about mental health issues. I also want to compliment groups like Console and the Samaritans, which do marvellous work in County Clare and throughout the State.
“It is important that people know that it is okay not to feel okay and that it is okay to talk about it,” he added.
“The biggest challenge in the battle to improve mental health facilities and services is presented by the shortfall of key staff. If we are to tackle this issue and reduce the waiting lists, a dramatically enhanced focus on recruitment is required. A root and branch review of staffing right across the mental health service is long overdue.
“Funding for a new recruitment drive needs to be ring-fenced and there must be a clear strategy in regard to the recruitment of key front-line staff, coupled with a budget that is ring-fenced to be used for the engagement of key staff, as identified in ‘A Vision for Change’,Deputy Carey concluded.
ABOVE: Deputy Joe Carey (right) with Deputy Tom Neville at the Parliamentary Mental Health Forum in Dublin Castle