Plans to extend a training programme for the prevention of suicide and self-harm to mental health services in Clare is being hindered by the lack of a national training programme and the availability of staff resources.

This information was released by the HSE in response to a parliamentary question from Clare Fine Gael TD Joe Carey who asked for an update on plans to deliver on mental health services for behavioural therapy in Clare.

Deputy Carey made particular reference to Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) which is designed to help people suffering from borderline personality disorder. He said that this form of psychotherapy has been used to treat mood disorders and patterns of behaviour such as self-harm, suicidal ideation and substance abuse.

He was told by HSE Mid West head of mental health services Mark Sparling that the HSE national office for suicide prevention had provided funding to support training of mental health staff in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT).

“In the HSE Mid West area, local mental health management has supported the training of a DBI team in adult mental health services in the Limerick area with eight staff trained between 2015 and 2016.

There are currently no trained DBT teams in Clare as the national focus since 2017 has been to consolidate and sustain the teams that have already been trained.

A decision was made by the area management team to implement a pilot scheme for the delivery of DBT services in the Mid West across Limerick City and County. This decision was based on population density and the availability of staff from five teams in Limerick City.

The purpose of the pilot scheme was to measure the clinical effectiveness of DBT to expand across the Mid West region.

“Consideration has been given by the area management team to extend DBT services to Clare but this is currently restricted by the lack of availability of national training and staff resources. It is recommended that eight staff are available for training over two years and a commitment for a further two years,” Mr Sparling concluded.

Expressing disappointment at the response, Deputy Carey said that he would be pressing the HSE to provide suitable training for mental health professionals in Clare to enable them to deliver Dialectical Behaviour Therapy as a matter of urgency.