Mental Health is a complex matter requiring a broad range of interests 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 Government’s commitment to mental health is well documented. Budget 2019 increased mental health funding to €987 million, an increase of €276 since 2012. That is nearly 40% over the period. This additional funding has helped us to develop the range of services available to a person with mental health issues.
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. Interventions are tailored to each patient’s individual needs and can include a broad range of interventions that may include psychopharmacological treatments, various forms of psychotherapy including those which have their roots in cognitive behavioural therapies, systemic therapies, psychodynamic therapies etc.
The Government has committed €55 million to Mental Health new developments in 2019, a total of €105 million over the last three years. This will facilitate in providing increased access to talk therapies to improve treatment outcomes for service users. For Children and Adolescents, significant additional funding has been allocated to NGOs, for example Jigsaw, to improve access and early intervention to young people seeking assistance.
In addition, I have worked closely, over the past few years, with the HSE, to introduce new initiatives and ways of working, including digital technologies and early intervention services. These include a dedicated 24-hour signposting telephone line, a crisis text line and 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. I am very focused on building up therapeutic services in the community and trying to get service users to engage with the services at the earliest possible stage of intervention. That is why we have recruited 114 Assistant Psychologists, 20 Psychologists and 10 Assistant Nurse Practitioners to Primary Care services last year.
I have also committed up to €3 million of the new development funding 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.