In July 2017 I was nominated by Fianna Fáil to join the Oireachtas Mental Health Committee. I have been a long-time advocate for mental health provision and was extremely happy to be part of this committee.
The World Health Organisations states: ‘There is no health without mental health’. So with this in mind the time had come for the new joint oireachtas committee to be established specifically for mental health to discuss and debate issues of policies and services.
In October we released its final report having been set up to produce a cross-party report on a long-term plan for mental health care. The committee worked tirelessly and heard submissions from a range of experts and interest groups to ensure mental health care in Ireland was progressing in the right direction.
The aim was to come up with a single, long-term vision for mental health care and the direction of mental health policy in Ireland. With this final report, the Committee has completed its task and provided those recommendations for the Minister to consider.
The report focused on the three areas of change required in of Primary Care, Recruitment / Retention and Funding. We recommended major capital investment in mental health facilities, to bring them into line with required standards. A significant factor hindering recruitment and retention in the line of mental health services derived from current pay.
The report said a lack of funding was the root of the problems with mental health services. This can be seen by the huge waiting lists across the country for both children and adults seeking help.
I hope that following on from this Report, a permanent committee will be set up to oversee implementation of our recommendations and to continually improve our mental health services in Ireland.
As Chair of the Oireachtas Education and Skills Committee we have also looked closely at mental health supports in schools and sent a report into developing positive mental health in Schools to the Minister for Education and Skills. The report outlined how teachers should be allocated sufficient time, training and resources to enable them to promote positive mental health amongst students. The report also called on the Minister for Education and Skills and the Minister with special responsibility for Mental Health and Older People to work together in order to promote mental resilience.
Mental health supports in South Kildare must be improved. They must be improved for both adults and children who need help in various ways. I will continue to lobby the Minister for Health on behalf of South Kildare