Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People, Helen McEntee has confirmed work is underway on a roadmap for improved out-of-hours access to mental health services.
On Wednesday, the minister received a petition of almost 12,000 signatures from Shari McDaid, on behalf of the Mental Health Reform, A Lust for Life, Uplift and Future Voices at Leinster House. The campaign is calling for the delivery of Holistic, 24/7 community based crisis mental health services across Ireland.
Minister McEntee said,”Improving access to mental health services is a key priority for me as minister and work is underway in this area. Anyone who needs help should be able to get it. We need to ensure that seven-day access is in place, across the country, before we move towards the provision of 24/7 access. We must walk before we can run.
“I am glad to say that specific actions are in place around many of the issues raised in the petition. For instance, the HSE set up a Service Improvement Project with a dedicated project manager in November 2016, to help ensure that each region provides access to a weekend service for people currently attending the service. I am now working with my department and the HSE on a roadmap to achieve both 7/7, and in due course 24/7 access, to mental health services across the country.”
The minister continued, “Services for all adults and those under 18, are being developed in the light of significant new investment being made available for mental health, balanced against an acknowledged difficulty for the Executive in securing suitably qualified and experienced staff for this care programme. My objective, and that of the HSE, is to improve all aspects of mental health care nationally for all children and adults, including better access outside of normal working hours.
“I would like to encourage anyone who may be experiencing suicidal ideation to contact their GP or attend the nearest emergency department immediately, or avail of the 24 hour Samaritan phone line service on 116 123.”