Wednesday, 13 March 2019

Questions (64)

Eamon Ryan


64. Deputy Eamon Ryan asked the Minister for Health the steps he is taking to facilitate access to non-medication treatments needed to stem the rise of anti-depressant prescriptions. [12412/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

Mental Health is a complex matter requiring a broad range of treatments depending on individual patient need.  In many cases, medication plays an important part in helping the patient to deal with mental health issues.  At the same time, it is necessary to ensure that alternatives, such as talk therapies, are available where needed.

The HSE provides a comprehensive range of community-based mental health services. It is committed to the provision of a person-centred approach to the care for each patient. It provides evidence-based psychological interventions that are delivered through Primary Care and where necessary through specialist mental health services. The recruitment of 20 Psychologists and 114 Assistant Psychologists to Primary Care services last year is expected to alleviate capacity issues within mental health specialist services.

Interventions are tailored to each patient’s individual needs and can include a broad range of interventions that may include psychopharmacological treatments and various forms of psychotherapy including those which have their roots in cognitive behavioural therapies, systemic therapies and psychodynamic therapies. 

The Department of Health is working with the HSE to explore the increased use of digital technologies and early intervention services are being introduced. These include tele-psych facilities, which will provide increased talk therapies to patients within the primary care setting and directly to their digital device as is proven to be the preference of many teens and adolescents. 

In recognition of the importance of mental health, the Government increased the mental health allocation for 2019 to nearly €1 billion. The overall HSE Mental Health Budget has been increased by €276 million, or 39%, since 2012. Budget 2019 allocated an additional €55 million to progress new developments in mental health this year. €3 million of the new development funding is being used to develop resilience and early intervention programmes. The HSE will work with sports, community and voluntary groups to ensure that services are delivered at community level, where required. 

In addition, the HSE Medicines Management Programme has Prescribing Tips and Tools information cards for a number of anti-depressants and are available on their website for all prescribers to access.

In conclusion, I am satisfied that the HSE is exploring different types of treatments while employing the most appropriate for each individual patient.