Director of mental health post not yet filled


HEALTH AUTHORITIES have still not appointed a director who will be responsible for mental health and accelerating plans to modernise psychiatric services, despite pledging to do so last year.

The campaign group Mental Health Reform says these changes are crucial to speeding up the “tortuously slow” implementation of the States official policy for transforming mental health services.

The group’s director Orla Barry said: “We are now at the end of the first quarter of 2012 and the position announced in December is yet to be appointed and the recruitment of multi-disciplinary community mental health staff announced in the Budget has not yet begun.”

A Vision for Change, which was launched six years ago, set out a 10-year plan to shift the delivery of mental health services away from the old style model of institutional care to community based services.

To help push for the full implementation of this policy, Mental Health Reform has published a new “agenda for action” document, which proposes clear steps that need to be taken over the next four years.

These steps include establishing an independent complaints mechanism for mental health services, rather than the current system were patients have to complain to the service itself.

Ms Barry said the change needed will not happen by itself. Instead, it will require dedicated support from all stakeholders, local communities and political leaders.

“The changes proposed are vital to create a quality, modern and humane service. Service users must be treated with empathy, respect and dignity by all mental health professionals they encounter on their way to recovery. All people in Ireland must have access to high quality, affordable services,” she said.

Mental Health Reform’s “agenda for action” highlights promotion of the recovery ethos, modernisation of the mental health services and increased accountability, transparency and governance as essential components to transform Ireland’s mental health services.

The Government insists that is it fully committed to implementing A Vision for Changeand points to the ring-fencing of €35 million as a sign the importance it attaches to progressing with the plans.

Health officials say plans to establish a directorate for mental health within the HSE this year are at an advanced stage.