Tuesday, 5 November 2019

Questions (482)

Jan O'Sullivan

Question:

482. Deputy Jan O'Sullivan asked the Minister for Health his plans to implement a national Traveller mental health strategy with a ring-fenced budget; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [44420/19]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

National mental health policies, such as A Vision for Change and Connecting for Life, support a whole-of-population approach to mental health service delivery. The Traveller community is among a number of priority groups identified in these strategies, acknowledging that, while Travellers are eligible to avail of all mainstream public health services, they also have specific needs and mental health services should be delivered in a culturally-appropriate way.

For this reason, in 2017 the HSE committed to the recruitment of nine Mental Health Coordinators for Travellers, eight of whom are currently in post. The focus of these roles is to work within the CHOs to support improved access, consistency and integration of mental health services to meet the mental health needs of Travellers.

The Department of Health also provides funding in the region of €10m per annum, through the HSE, for targeted measures to improve the health status of the Travelling community. These include:

- primary healthcare projects, counselling services, family support programmes and men's health projects; dedicated public health nurses and related staff; and

- mental health promotion and suicide prevention services in a culturally sensitive manner, to reduce the stigma associated with mental health.

In addition, the Department of Justice and Equality's National Traveller and Roma Inclusion Strategy also details HSE-specific actions. Of particular note is the commitment by the HSE to develop a National Traveller Health Action Plan.

The HSE circulated a first draft of the action plan in March 2019 for consultation with stakeholders, including the Department of Health. The draft is currently being revised to take account of feedback and is expected to be finalised in quarter 4 2019.