Mental health must become a "genuine priority" for the next Dáil, where patients and their families are put "at the heart of reforming the service", according to Social Democrats Galway West candidate, Niall Ó Tuathail.
Mr Ó Tuathail, who has worked for the NHS in Britain, was speaking following the party's launch of its mental policy in Galway on Tuesday. Along with party co-leader, Róisín Shortall, and Soc Dem Galway East candidate, Peter Reid, Mr Ó Tuathail also met with local leaders on mental health in Galway.
“Mental health care in Galway and the country is currently a piecemeal system that lets many fall through the cracks," said Dep Shortall. "Primary and community care is much disorganised and emergency care is not fit for purpose. This results in unnecessary distress for people and their families and, too frequently, avoidable tragic outcomes. People in distress often find that help is not forthcoming.”
Mr Reid called for the increase in funding for mental health services to 10 per cent of the health budget, as outlined in the Sláintecare plan, to be implemented. Such an increase, he said, would see funding rise from the current rate of six per cent, and match international best practice.
"This would provide for strong public education on mental health, better prevention strategies, more appropriate, and timely primary and community level care and better acute and in-patient services for those in crisis," he said.
Mr Ó’Tuathail said it was also important "to be aware of the consequences" of economics and Government policy on mental health. "Young people have a raw deal with the cost of housing and living and can’t afford to even live by themselves, let alone raise a family," he said. "This is having a huge impact on mental health.”