Mental Health is a priority for me and for the Government. Supporting positive mental health is particularly important during the current pandemic.
The Government remains fully committed to the continued development of mental health services, from mental health promotion to acute and specialist services. The approach taken reflects the principles of Sláintecare.
I am progressing the various mental health commitments set out in our national mental health policy, Sharing the Vision, and those in the current Programme for Government. In addition, I have recently extended Connecting for Life , the national suicide reduction strategy, until 2024.
The Government has invested significantly in enhancing mental health services. The Budget 2021 allocation of €1.076 billion for mental health is an increase of €50 million over 2020. Of the additional €50 million for 2021, €23 million will be used to commence implementation of many of the short-term recommendations in Sharing the Vision . This will fund an additional 153 staff in enhancing community mental health teams, including CAMHS, clinical care programmes, bereavement counselling, employment supports and crisis resolution.
The existing base budget each year plus any additional allocation will allow us to develop a more modern mental health service, which is recovery-focused and community based. One of the priority actions for 2021, as set out in the HSE National Service Plan, is to develop a sustainable costed plan for the governance, model of services and implementation of the national policy for mental health, Sharing the Vision, which has a ten-year implementation plan, overseen by the National Implementation and Monitoring Committee (NIMC). The funding required will be based on the NIMC’s work plan, which will identify developments for each year. This funding will then be sought as part of the estimates process and in conjunction with the development of the HSE’s National Service Plan each year.
Sharing the Vision is not prescriptive on staff numbers, however the composition and skill mix of each community mental health team (CMHT), along with clinical and operational protocols, should take into consideration the needs and social circumstances of its sector population and the availability of staff with relevant skills. Providing the core skills of CMHTs are met, there should be flexibility in how the teams are resourced to meet the full range of needs where there is strong population-based needs assessment data.