For those of you not living in Ireland, you may not have heard of the absolutely travesty of a decision that was approved by our Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, this week – one third of funds that were ringfenced (doesn’t that mean untouchable?!) for mental health are to be moved elsewhere. To say there has been uproar in response to this is putting it mildly.

I don’t need to repeat what has been said so many times already about how desperately we need these services. Instead I want to share with you what some readers of the blog have said in response to it all.

Here’s what I posted on facebook the other day:
It would appear to be true. Mental health funds are being moved elsewhere by our ‘caretaker’ (a misnomer if ever there was one) government. Words fail me.

Here’s how readers responded:
So disillusioned. All that matters is the image we present to the world of Ireland being a thriving economy. The people are nothing.

Do people matter anymore? Not to mind people with mental health issues. Aside from the ethics and compassion does this (government or whatever it is now) realise a healthy country needs healthy citizens. Look at the economically buoyant countries and take an even closer look at their healthcare services including mental health. Your policies are destroying the Irish people. Destroying families. Because it’s not just the person with mental health issues and needs that suffers…it is also their family. ..spouse, partner, children, parents, siblings. Which brings me back to the effect on the economy. Lost work time, increased social welfare payments and so on.
To whom it concerns please therefore rethink what you are about to do. Get some research done to show what the consequences will be

Cannot understand how minister can make a statement saying all 2016 money allocated for mental health can’t be spent and that this money will now be put towards vaccines etc! While I totally understand the importance of progress with vaccines, I also FULLY understand the lack of mental health services available. Why can’t the money allocated for mental health be used to progress these???

Cuts are scandalous, the budget was paultry as it was, the increases that had been originally suggested were supposed to be focused on talk therapies. Funding is needed to support families, spouses and communities. I believe the answer to real support and prevention lies in early intervention. That means training ourselves as a society to recognise and support someone when a problem is arising or if they are in crisis. The average time from onset to treatment can range from 1-14 years (mood problems), 3-30 years (anxiety) and 6-18 years (substance use problems) and yet we know early intervention means a better outcome (WHO). Mental health literacy is poor and we need to take a societal responsibility to improve this. Mental Health First Aid Ireland is one resource I know to be comprehensive enough to help parents, teachers, gardai, GP’s, students, really anyone to learn more about how to recognise and respond to mental health. Ignorance and fear mean stigma. Society needs to learn more and recognise mental health touches us all.

Typical…sweep mental health under the carpet where it’s always been in good old Ireland….just wait til it visits their family…..he mightn’t be so quick to divert funds then….

It’s shocking. It’s true. Leo is a walkover. It’s beyond comprehension. There’s a suicide a day in Ireland and numerous attempts and self harm. Shameful

Come on now Leo Varadkar its plain to see that you are not in any way associated with anybody with mental health issues because if you were you would see that every penny of that money is needed by our mental health department this year. Our patients cannot wait until next year they need help now. Are you cooking the books now for your successor sure wont it look good in next years budget to be allocating that money all over again!

Not one bit surprised. I was told today by the quack doctor there’s an actual waiting list for the psychiatric unit in Beaumont. So I’m wondering should I put my name on the list just incase I might get ill. An acute unit with a waiting list. So now you need to plan your demise. Bloody joke.

Yet another message to tell us we need to be invisible

All I can say is that unfortunately I’m not surprised at the cuts. Government, in whatever form it takes, just don’t get it. They have still to realise that mental health is every persons concern and impacts everything from homelessness to economic growth.

Fiona there are no words. I am heartbroken.

He is a moron, no idea what’s happening out here in the real world.

Ring fenced they said

Outrageous. Absolutely outrageous.

It’s a complete joke. A&E are struggling to deal with patients in mental health crisis. We were missing a consultant in 1 of the South tipp sectors, there was no locum only a junior doctor that can’t make diagnosis (or change meds, I think). I was informed that they’re isn’t any consultant psychiatrist looks g for work in Ireland. They have even advertised in the UK for posts and no-one wants them. Vision for change closed hospitals and promised a full compliment of staff per team. I know in South tipp that there isn’t a full team, and now the Psychiatric Nurse Association is threatening industrial action. Now the government have got rid of rent allowance and brought in another payment instead. Housing assistance or something like that. We’ve had people talking to our consumer panel now worried that there is no leeway on money, as there was with rent allowance. A signal person is allowed €370 a month on this new payment and anything extra has to be paid. So anyone in private rented accommodation now face cuts in there rent allowance payments, putting people more in debt, affecting there already fragile mental health and now the government who already know the system isn’t working and needs more supports are now cutting the money that is needed.
There is no free counselling service for anybody that doesn’t have a medical card. They might own there own house/farm/land etc and don’t qualify for a medical card and are suffering with the mental health as they are so in debt and then can’t access free support services.

I have been involved with the Adult Mental Health Services in the west of Ireland for almost three years now. In many ways, I am very lucky in comparison to so many of the stories that I hear and read about. It makes me feel bad about any complaints that I have. However when reading that service users are facing more cuts to services which are already dangerously underresourced, I think maybe it’s time to stop feeling that I “should” be grateful that things aren’t worse and add my voice before they are. Mental health crisis differ very greatly from physical ones from the outside. I have cared for a family member with a terminal illness. In A&E, despite the chaos, people always knew what to do. She was treated with care and professionalism. Even while waiting the long wait for a bed, her team would be called, she would given whatever she needed and kept comfortable and informed. A&E with a mental health crisis is completely different and this time my experience is first hand. At a time when you are at your most frightened and vulnerable, no one knows what to do with you. At a desperate time, you are left sitting…made to feel like the one who is just taking up space…sent away because there is no real help unless you are in a life threatening situation and even then, it’s not guaranteed. When I was first referred to Mental Health, I was blissfully unaware of the system. My GP referred me as an emergency. He was seriously worried. I was seriously terrified. I thought the emergency referral would mean that I would hear something in a couple of days. It’s quite funny thinking back to that naïve mindset. Yet, it would have all the difference. But I am still lucky in lots of ways. Despite the myriad of new different doctors I see on Outpatient appointments, I also see a nurse once a month who knows me, knows my history, and can translate all the goings on for me. Outpatient appointments. If I’m lucky I get to see a doctor that I’ve seen at least once previously. If it’s a completely new face, there’s a hope that they’ve at least read the main highlights of my file. Otherwise it’s a weary process of repeating the whole story over and over again while wondering what’s the point when it’s unlikely that I’ll see this person again. I’ve been asked by psychiatrists to explain what my treatment involves. I’ve been given opposing opinions on my medications, my diagnosis and my treatment. I’ve turned up to appointments and been turned away because the clinic is too busy and has to prioritise. Bearing in mind that I have an illness that is life threatening, is this effective? I have waited. The waiting is probably by far the worst part. Waiting and waiting for treatments that you hope will work; that you hope will save your life. Yet, you have no guarantee when or if they will happen. Weeks and months merge into each other when you’re clinging to a waiting list. My GP had to prescribe medication for anxiety to help me cope with the waiting. Yet I’m still lucky. The waiting paid off for me and I’m being seen. I have amazing support from the people providing my treatment. I feel I shouldn’t complain. I am only too aware of the many, many people who don’t have that privilege… …and the fact that something so desperately needed and deserved and basic is seen as a privilege is the biggest travesty of all.

 

This article has 2 Comments

  1. I was in this situation first hand, I had a manic episode was escorted to the hospital and I managed to flee was taken back held for three weeks let go faced countless doctors for three years after told us he on medication fur my life, thankfully I fight holistically with Kiniesiology and reiki, it cost money I became a practitioner and now I practice meditation and reiki but u still have bouts of rainy days thankfully I persevered it was my own doing I fit a degree in that time and I’m building a business now, it was a frightening time and I very much guy myself out, I can’t even begin to comprehend how less services or money might impact on people, it’s frightening and speaking frankly it’s disgusting what’s being perpetrated by the state in its citizens

  2. We share tragedies , in the United States, the richest country in the world , our seriously mentally ill are put out homeless, without a place to live, psychotic , without medication, unable to care for themselves as they have lost insight they are ill. Those callous , misinformed claim its against their human rights for family and caregivers to intervene to bring them medical care.
    As I begged for care for our psychotic son who refused treatment, I was told he had a right to be crazy if he chooses.
    I fight today still for those seriously mentally ill for their rights to medical care . To change our heartless laws that are killing our loved ones and keeping family from intervention. A federal law that overhauls the broken mental illness system is what we as advocates fight for 🙂

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