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Budget 2015: €15 million short in mental health spending

Katheleen Lynch TD. Photo:  Justin Farrelly/TheLabourParty via Flickr CC

Kathleen Lynch TD. Photo: Justin Farrelly/TheLabourParty via Flickr CC

 

Mental health organisations have spoken out about Budget 2015 after raising concerns that €15m in the Government’s planned spending in this area wasn’t granted.

Responsible for mental health services, Junior Minister Kathleen Lynch, said that €35m was being ring-fenced for the area in 2015.

While the Government’s announcement of €20m to further develop community mental health services indicates a continued commitment to ‘A vision of Change’. This is because a cut of €15m was brought in last year as part of a series of swingeing cuts to the Department of Health’s budget.

Last year Lynch said that she hoped that €50m would be awarded for the area in 2015. This includes the restoration of the €15m, in addition to the €35m figure outlined in the coalition’s Programme for Government.

Shari McDaid of mental health reform – a group of 48 individual organisations – said she was “disappointed the minister didn’t come through with the funding.”

“When the budget was announced last year the minister did indicate that she would look to make the shortfall”, she said. She then went on to say that, “services are still very much stretched.”

McDaid said that the funding should be earmarked to invest in primary care and 24/7 crisis support services. She was also concerned that there wouldn’t be enough funds to pay for new staff to cover retirements. Earlier this month Mental Health Reform handed in a petition signed by 22,000 people, calling for increased funding in Budget 2015.

There was criticism from other party representatives with Fianna Fail’s spokesperson on mental health, Colm Keaveney, accusing Minister Lynch of again betraying her promises in the area.

In a statement, the Galway TD said, “To cut the budget by 40 per cent last year was a disgrace, and reflected the Government’s complete lack of urgency in addressing the crisis.”

Minister Lynch’s position is that the €35m would be used “to accelerate the pace of change to develop a modern, patient-centred, and recovery oriented mental health service.”

“Today’s allocation brings overall funding to €125m specifically earmarked for mental health and suicide prevention since this Government came into office.”

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