Athlone Institute of Technology Students Union is calling on newly appointed Minister for Health Simon Harris to reverse the diversion of €12 million from mental health services announced by former Minister for Health Leo Varadkar. AIT Students Union highlighted the dangers in this diversion recently at a demonstration outside Leinster House alongside the Union of Students in Ireland and Mental Health Reform.
According to a HRB report, one in seven adults in Ireland experienced a mental health difficulty in the last year. Some 15.4 per cent of children aged 11-13 and 19.5 per cent of young adults aged 19-24 have had a mental health disorder, and 75 per cent of mental health difficulties arise before age 25, according to an RCSI study on mental health of young people in Ireland.
AIT Students Union president Kevin Ronan said that “Access to these services is vital in saving lives. When someone knocks on a door for help, we need to be sure that it is answered. Adequate funding is essential for these services so that those in need can access support and those working in the sector are not over-worked and under-resourced.”
Over 500 people attended the demonstration outside Government buildings calling on the reversal of these cuts, with over 120,000 people nationwide taking part in the Darkness into Light walks showing the strength of unity as people tackle mental health stigma directly.
Vice president for welfare, Kate Butler, added: “Cuts to these services goes against all the great work that is done on the ground within third level colleges. We are promoting positive mental health throughout the AIT community and when they [students] go seeking services outside the institute they are left waiting.”