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Mental Health Services

Dáil Éireann Debate, Tuesday - 19 October 2021

Tuesday, 19 October 2021

Questions (906)

Bernard Durkan


906. Deputy Bernard J. Durkan asked the Minister for Health the ongoing efforts underway to enhance the quality and scale of community and institutional mental health services with particular reference to the need to achieve quality of service in line with the requirements; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [51274/21]

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Written answers (Question to Health)

All aspects of mental health services are being improved and developed, through implementation of our national mental health policy, Sharing the Vision in the short to longer term. 

Sharing the Vision aims to enhance the provision of mental health services and supports across a broad continuum, from mental health promotion, prevention and early intervention to acute and specialist mental health service delivery, during the period 2020-2030. 

A whole-of-government National Implementation Monitoring Committee (NIMC) was established in December 2020 to oversee the implementation of the recommendations in the policy and to monitor progress. The NIMC is made up of the NIMC Steering Committee, which will be supported by a NIMC Reference Group of Service Users and Families and NIMC Specialist Groups. 

The NIMC Steering Committee, independently chaired by Mr John Saunders, is driving the implementation of Sharing the Vision, ensuring that appropriate monitoring and oversight processes are in place. The Steering Committee is meeting regularly and progressing the establishment of specialist groups, and implementation monitoring processes. The HSE has primary responsibility for the implementation of the majority of the Sharing the Vision recommendations. To that end, the HSE Implementation Group (HIG), which reports to the NIMC Steering Committee, was established in May 2021 and its work is progressing. Currently the NIMC Steering Committee and the HIG are  working together to develop an Implementation Plan (2022-2024) and associated enhanced implementation reporting processes.

The NIMC Steering Committee has additionally established Specialist Groups in priority areas of development including CAMHS, Acute Inpatient Bed Capacity development  and also in   Women’s Mental Health. Other specialist groups may be established as appropriate, in a structured and strategic manner in line with implementation priorities.  

Additionally, the Steering Committee is seeking to progress the establishment of the Reference Group of Service Users and Families. To this end, an appropriate selection process is in progress to select a suitable agency to host this group on behalf of the NIMC.

There is work ongoing across Government that aligns to the recommendations of Sharing the Vision. I am satisfied that the Committee is progressing well in this initial stage of its work, by building on the following initiatives already underway: 

-   Many significant recent developments in online mental health service provision and positive mental health promotion have been expedited in response to the ongoing pandemic. These initiatives exemplify the holistic, whole-of-population approach to mental health service development that Sharing the Vision  promotes and seeks to advance, in parallel with the development of specialist supports. 

- Sharing the Vision recommends the continued phased implementation and evaluation of existing national clinical programmes in mental health, including Dual Diagnosis, Early Intervention in Psychosis, and Eating Disorders. The clinical programmes, which are in various stages of design and implementation, are at the heart of service improvement. 

-   Sharing the Vision additionally recommends that, in keeping with the evolving understanding of human rights to empower people and improve quality of care in mental healthcare facilities, legislation must be updated and additional supports put in place. This is currently being addressed in the review of the Mental Health Act, 2001, which was completed, and a General Scheme approved by Government on 13 July 2021. Following the Government decision to approve the heads of bill, a formal Bill will be drafted by the Office of the Attorney General, in consultation with the Department of Health. 

Additionally, on 14 October, 2021,  the Government and I announced another record funding plan,  with further increases in the mental health budget for 2022. 

A total of €1.149 billion has been allocated to mental health in Budget 2022. This is an additional €47 million for next year and comprises €24 million for new developments, €13 million for existing levels of service and €10 million in once off funding for COVID-19. 

The additional investment provided for in Budget 2022 will ensure the continued development of mental health services, including out of hours supports, child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) and the national clinical mental health programmes. An additional €1.15 million will be allocated to the Clinical Programme on Eating Disorders to continue the roll out of specialist eating disorder teams in CHOs 1, 3, 5 and 6. New mental health services for older people will be developed, in line with the model of care for specialist mental health services for older people and will be piloted next year. Two new CAMHS telehubs will be funded under Budget 2022 and funding will also be allocated to enhance the capacity of CAMHS teams across the country. Crisis resolution teams will continue to be developed with an allocated budget of over €1.4 million in 2022. 

An additional €10 million has been announced this week, as a once off funding measure to provide further investment in mental health services in 2021, with a particular emphasis on community and voluntary based supports.