We will stay for as long as we can. I very much welcome the opportunity to debate this extremely important issue. I take this time to offer my sympathies to families who have been affected by suicide, and particularly recently in Cork. The most important thing is to work together with organisations, communities, schools and those particularly affected in order to work through it.
I welcome this debate as an opportunity to restate the Government’s and my commitment to our mental health policy and to the development of services within the mental health area. Since 2012, an extra €115 million and around 1,150 new posts have been allocated for mental health and suicide prevention initiatives. The budget this year has provided for additional spending for enhanced services of €35 million on a full-year basis to enable further improvements to access across a range of areas. Key priorities for next year's service plan include youth mental health, further improvement to child and adolescent and adult services, older people's services and further enhanced out-of-hours response for those in need of urgent services, along with the delivery of services for people with eating disorders.
Recognising the time lag in new staff taking up posts and the completion of preparations for the introduction of these services, it is estimated that the revenue spend in 2017 associated with this increased allocation will be some €15 million. There will also be a further spend of €9.7 million in mental health associated with increased pay costs. It is my belief the increase in wages will go a long way towards realising the full implementation of A Vision for Change in the coming years. This additional €24.7 million for 2017 will see the mental health budget increase to €851 million, representing an increase of 3% over 2016 and an overall 20% increase since 2012. People are asking why we cannot spend the €20 million this year on one-off projects but the Government has given the go-ahead for the construction of a new national forensic hospital at Portrane. As I did in the Dáil, I urge those who have not visited the Central Mental Hospital to do so or meet staff, family members and patients so they can understand why this major project is needed and how it will benefit the most vulnerable people in our society. It is a significant capital investment for next year and with spending on this new hospital and other minor and mental health projects, it will exceed €50 million.
I am very much focused on modernising our mental health services in line with the national mental health policy, A Vision for Change, and that is why we are spending over €900 million on mental health next year. Again, I know that figure is not enough but we have given the commitment that we will increase this year on year and we will stick to that commitment. In addition to the substantial ongoing financial commitment to service development, we have also commenced the process of updating our current mental health policy, A Vision for Change. My Department has recently commissioned an evidence-based expert review which will focus on the progress made to date in the implementation of A Vision for Change. Some may argue we do not need to update it but rather get working on it. It needs updating, however. The review will take into account international best practice and it will inform the next steps in the development of our mental health policy. It will also provide a solid evidence base to determine the policy direction and a basis to further improve service development in the area while shaping future policy.
In line with the commitment given to Dáil Éireann on 6 October 2016, an oversight committee will be established within three months of the review being finalised to oversee the development of a new policy for mental health based on the outcome of the expert review. It is also envisaged that a successor policy to A Vision for Change will include a multi-annual implementation plan to inform this.
The Health Service Executive, HSE, will be directed to develop a multi-annual approach to that and to the development of mental health services.
The increased investment in mental health services over the past number of years, at a time when funding in every Department was being cut across the board, has helped to facilitate an increase in the staffing levels of both adult and child and adolescent community mental health teams. Of the additional 1,550 new posts approved since 2012, some 1,150 have been or are in the process of being filled.
Increased investment has also funded the development of specialist services recommended in A Vision for Change. That includes forensic, eating disorders, psychiatry of later life and mental health intellectual disability services. We are also seeing continued development of community mental health teams, improved seven day responses and liaison services, perinatal mental health, two new clinical programmes specifically for ADHD in adults and children, which is one of the newer programmes, and dual diagnosis of those with mental illness and substance misuse on which a clinical lead will be appointed in the coming weeks.
We are also advancing the development of counselling services at primary care level and providing considerable extra funding to extend services such as Jigsaw, which offers a more informal environment in which younger people engage with each other and encourage each other to seek help.
A Programme for A Partnership Government recognises the need to further promote awareness and prevention strategies. That is why this year we launched our national task force on youth mental health, which I chair. We have had three meetings to date. We have met with services and engaged with younger people. We held our first forum last week and I hope early in the new year we can identify and bring forward key issues and priorities on which we can begin working almost immediately.
I acknowledge that this area needs continued investment, monitoring and attention. While services are not perfect, we have started from a very low base. As with anything, if we want to get it right and ensure the effects are long-lasting, we must not take a big bang approach but rather take our time and make sure that any changes happen for the right reason.
I welcome today's debate. I hope it will be open and informative. I want to hear Members' suggestions and, if needs be, their criticisms, but I hope we will work together on this because we all have the same goal and want the same end result.