Government urged to appoint mental health figurehead

Sat, Jan 5, 2013, 00:00

Macra na Feirme has called on the Government to give mental health the same priority as it has shown for road safety, by appointing a figurehead such as Gay Byrne.

Chairman of the farming organisation’s rural youth initiative Ger Griffin says the appointment of a high-profile champion such as the chairman of the Road Safety Authority (RSA) could help reduce suicides.

Mr Griffin said it was time for the Government to “revaluate” its work in this area.

“The appointment of Gay Byrne as chairman of the RSA has proved successful and I call on the Government to mirror this approach with a campaign to reduce death by suicide.”

The call follows HSE figures which show more than 2,000 children and adolescents are on waiting lists for mental health services.

Service gaps are particularly acute outside of Dublin and its commuter belt.

Head of mental health services at the HSE Martin Rogan this week told The Irish Times that while he understood the reality of the economic situation, “there is a limit to how far I can stretch this before it snaps”.

Macra na Feirme is a partner of See Change, the national mental health stigma reduction partnership, and promotes positive mental health among its 8,000-strong membership of young farmers and rural young people.