January 27, 2012

OLIVIA KELLY

A DELAY of six years in delivering community-based mental health services has been criticised by the chairman of the Mental Health Commission.

Edmond O’Dea, chairman of the statutory body charged with monitoring mental health services, said progress on the implementation of the national mental health policy was too slow.

“This week marks the sixth anniversary of the publication of A Vision for Change and yet its full implementation is still a long way off. If we as a society are to have a modern, fair, integrated and community-based mental health service then must be implemented.”

The 10-year plan, published in 2006, proposed shifting the mental health services away from the old model of institutional care to community-based services.

Some progress had been made during 2011 and the first month of 2012, Dr O’Dea said, particularly in relation to the commitment of €35 million for the development of mental health services.

He also welcomed the proposed establishment of the Directorate for Mental Health Services at the Health Service Executive and the commitment to recruit for 400 posts in the sector.

“These posts will help to bridge the gap which has been created over the past number of years as a result of the gradual loss of personnel from within the service. They will also help to alleviate the loss of personnel in the near term.”

The recession had created an increased demand for mental health services, he said.

“The full implementation of A Vision for Change will go a long way to making sure that those who really need a mental health service can access it.”

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