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Mental Health Services Problems Highlighted Again

The details contained in the report this week from Mental Health Reform shows once again a number of serious problems that I have been highlighting in our mental health services in the recent past. The report shows that over 1,000 nursing jobs have been lost to mental services nationwide since 2008 and that is despite an increase in demand for care and treatment. The facts are that in 2015 the level of staffing is 11% below that in 2008. The shortage of staff is leading to rising waiting lists and that is evident especially among young people and adolescents. The report says that the waiting list for children and adolescents to be seen is almost 3,000 in January this year with 429 on the waiting list for a year or more. It is a totally unacceptable situation and a scandal. These are some of the most vulnerable people in our society and they are being treated disgracefully. The Vision for Change plan that was so widely welcomed in 2006 highlights that people who want to access mental health services and their families want to be listened to and treated with respect. However with such a shortage of staff and a lack of proper resourcing that is not happening at the moment. The Minister must treat this problem seriously once and for all and tackle the many problems in the whole area of mental health services urgently. I will be pursuing the matter relentlessly until we see action being taken.