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Mental Health Must Be Priority

The news from the PNA (Psychiatric Nurses Association) this week that there are 600 vacancies in the mental health sector for nurses, and that another 400 will become available because of retirements, will come as no surprise to those of us that have been campaigning hard for improved services in the mental area and especially in the local area.
The new Government must take the crisis in mental health services seriously and the Vision for Change policy will have to be fully implimented (as is in the programme for Government) and that process will have to start as soon as possible. A specific amount will have to be set aside in the budget each year to ensure that the Vision for Change policy is followed and that staff numbers reach their full levels within five years at the very latest. I realise that the shortfall in numbers cannot be met immediately but we have to make a start. There is also a commitment to increase the spending on mental health each year in the programme for Government which is welcome, however we need to tie down specific amounts. We have to provide adequate resources for mental health services and we have to all realise the wide impact that mental health difficulties are having on Irish society. We have seen serious problems with regard to services in this constituency in particular and this is something that I will be following up vigorously in the coming weeks and months.