Urgent Funding Needed For Mental Health As Acute Services At “Breaking Point”

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Consultants are calling for increased spending on Ireland’s mental health services, as they warn that acute services are at “breaking point”.

Launching the Irish Hospital Consultants Association’s pre-budget submission on Tuesday, Mater Hospital consultant Dr Ger O’Connor warned that the Irish health service is facing a “perfect storm” as the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic meet the existing weaknesses of mental health services in Ireland.

The body, which represents 95 per cent of consultants in Ireland, is calling for an immediate increase of 300 acute adult psychiatric inpatient beds, with specialist services for those over 65 and for those with severe and long-term mental illness.

Consultants are also asking the government to immediately increase operational beds for child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) by 50 per cent.

Ireland currently has four CAMHS inpatient services, located in Dublin, Galway and Cork.

The consultants today warned that Ireland is “treating children with psychiatric illnesses as second-class citizens, as it would not expect those with other medical condition to ensure similar difficulties”.

“A zero tolerance is required on the continued inappropriate admission of children and adolescents to adult mental health units,” they warn.

According to the Irish Hospital Consultants Association, Ireland’s current mental health budget is €2,000 per 1,000 people below the spend 13 years ago.