Government committed to mental health funding says McEntee

Minister of State wants cross-departmental approach to tackling problem

 Fine Gael TD Helen McEntee: committed to developing youth mental health services.

Fine Gael TD Helen McEntee: committed to developing youth mental health services.

 

The Government is committed to an annual increase in funding for the mental health services, Minister of State for Health Helen McEntee has told the Dail.

“Obviously, we would like to see the funding increased as much as possible,’’ she added.

Ms McEntee said the programme for partnership government outlined clearly that it wanted to tackle the problem, adopting a cross-party, cross-departmental approach and take on board the various issues more specifically.

“I am committed to developing youth mental health services, as is the Government with its announcement of a youth mental health taskforce,’’ she added. “That will require funding, but the commitment has been made.’’

Ms McEntee was replying to Fianna Fail spokesman James Browne who said €20 million had been allocated in 2014 instead of the €35 million promised. This year, €12 million had been siphoned off from mental health expenditure, he added.

The Minister said the previous government had made €115 million available in additional funding for mental health services at a time when other budgets across the spectrum were cut.

Mr Browne said the Fine Gael manifesto had pledged €35 million annually and it seemed strange this was absent from the programme for government. “I hope it was an oversight,’’ he added.

He urged Ms McEntee to work to ensure a funding increase in the region of €37.5 million annually, which was required to meet the commitments in A Vision for Change.

Ms McEntee said the full €35 million ring-fenced for this yeaqr would go into the base for next year. The budget would have to account for the fact the Government was examining cross-departmental options, she added.

As such, she added, she intended having each department and minister identify a specific element of its remit through which it could contribute to mental health. The issue was not confined to the Department of Health or, for that matter, the Departments of Children and Youth Affairs and Education and Skills.