CLARE’S Sinn Féin TD has called for a mental health emergency response system, to support people “gripped with fear” and in crisis because of the pandemic.
Contributing to a debate on a successful Sinn Féin motion urging government to take action on the mental health crisis, Deputy Violet-Anne Wynne described the current system as “not fit for purpose”.
“We know that mental health was in crisis pre-Covid,” she outlined.
“We know also the crisis has escalated throughout Covid, but what does this mean? It means people are suffering and experiencing great trauma and loss, huge change and anxiety, financial strain and pressure, and home insecurity.
“The government’s response to mental health has fallen short for many years. I note the Mental Health Commission told the Oireachtas Special Committee on Covid-19 Response that Ireland’s mental health system is not fit for purpose, it is out of date and investment in it and the community is needed.
“On behalf of my constituents in County Clare, I am asking if the Government will take stock now. Will it respond to the needs of its people? They hope so.”
The Kilrush-based TD pointed out that there is still no State-wide provision of 24-7 crisis mental health care at community level.
“This is a significant failure,” she said, and highlighted in particular the impact on those who had come forward for help to find there was none available.
“I want to stand up for the many in County Clare who have made great attempts at reaching out for help, especially the constituents who live in rural and isolated areas,” she said.
“Unfortunately, until we have 24-7 crisis mental health care in the community, we run the risk of our people experiencing further trauma and negativity, with some who have reached out to me describing it as a complete rejection.
“In their experience, to ask for help when in distress is an incredibly difficult step to take. This needs to be reflected on by those in power. Unless you have the personal experience, there is no appreciation of that overwhelming feeling when you knock on a door and it goes unanswered. That is a feeling that you just do not exist.”
Deputy Wynne outlined how she recently held a Zoom discussion with community and service representatives in this county and heard about “the high levels of demand on the ground and the rise in the number of people reaching out for support for the first time”.
“I commend them on the great work they have been doing,” she said. “The reality is people are losing loved ones, jobs, relationships, cars and homes and they are gripped with fear.
Sinn Féin has called for the establishment of a 24-7 care public crisis de-escalation multi-agency triage team ambulance service. People do not control how and when mental health crisis will impact them.”
Earlier this month, at the meeting of Clare’s Joint Policing Committee (JPC), Deputy Wynne sought details on any increase in calls from those in mental health distress.
Garda Chief Superintendent Seán Colleran confirmed that the have been a number of recent incidents. “We have responded to reports of people going missing,” he said. “There have been a number of such incidents. We have found people in very vulnerable situations and have responded. Our approach is a very proactive one in these cases.”
Fiona McGarry joined The Clare Champion as a reporter after a four-year stint as producer of Morning Focus on Clare FM. Prior to that she worked for various radio, print and online titles, including Newstalk, Maximum Media and The Tuam Herald.
Fiona’s media career began in her native Mayo when she joined Midwest Radio. She is the maker of a number of radio documentaries, funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland (BAI). She has also availed of the Simon Cumbers Media Fund to report on development issues supported by Irish Aid in Haiti.
She won a Justice Media Award for a short radio series on the work of Bedford Row Project, which supports prisoners and families in the Mid-West. Fiona also teaches on the Journalism programmes at The University of Galway.
If you have a story and would like to get in touch with Fiona you can email her at email@example.com or telephone 065 6864146.