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Minister Simon Harris

Students deplore mental health cuts

The Union of Students in Ireland is calling on newly-appointed Minister for Health Simon Harris to reverse the diversion of €12 million from Mental Health Services announced by his predecessor. USI highlighted the dangers in a protest outside the Dáil.

“Over 120,000 people took part in the Pieta House’s Darkness into Light walks last Saturday,” USI president, Kevin Donoghue, said. “The annually increasing numbers of people who come out in the early hours of the morning to support Pieta House’s Darkness into Light reflects how Irish people want mental health to be prioritised. The Government needs to prioritise mental health too. This diversion of funds will cost lives. It sends the message that mental health services can wait for funding, but it does not match the reality of the demand. It is an urgent problem at crisis point, requiring urgent action.”

USI is calling on Simon Harris to reverse the diversion of the €12 million which was ring-fenced for Mental Health in the 2016 budget. According to a HRB report, one in seven adults in Ireland experienced a mental health difficulty in the last year. 19.5% of young adults aged 19-24 have had a mental health disorder and 75% of mental health difficulties arise before the age of 25, according to an RCSI study on mental health of young people in Ireland.

“Funding was ring-fenced and was promised to help relieve the demand on mental health workers who are being pushed to their limit. The mental health sector is already understaffed and under-resourced. This diversion is hugely regressive and in dire need of urgent action,” Mr Donoghue said.

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