Sir, – Jennifer Bray’s recent article “Budget 2024: Ministers in clash over €1 billion health overspend” (News, September 25th) indicates that significant budgetary overruns in the Department of Health could impact on funding for the health sector in 2024. Amid the political horse trading, we cannot forget that our mental health services are chronically underfunded.
This year, spending on mental health represents only 5.1per cent of the total health budget. This falls far short of the Government’s own commitment in Sláintecare to increase spending on mental health to 10 per cent of the overall health budget by 2024. To reach this target, the Government would technically need to invest an additional €1 billion in mental health in Budget 2024.
In August of this year, the Oireachtas Parliamentary Budget Office prepared a useful analysis, Health Spending in Ireland 2015-2023.
There is not one mention of mental health in the analysis of health spending because mental health is chronically underfunded.
There is an increased demand for mental health services in our country with increasing demand for supports and a severe shortage of resources. Mental Health Reform is calling for a modest and reasonable investment of an additional €115 million for mental health services in the upcoming budget. This could assist the voluntary and community mental health sector with providing early intervention and prevention supports, strengthen and expand youth mental health supports and help to advance the milestones of the national mental health policy, Sharing the Vision, including through the expansion of the National Clinical Programmes in mental health.
Investment in mental health is not a luxury; it is a necessity. The persistent side-lining of mental health calls for our collective voice.
We all have a reason to invest in mental health. We all are a reason to invest in mental health. – Yours, etc,
Mental Health Reform,