An updated mental health policy is due to be published by the Government this year, however lessons must be learned from the many shortcomings in implementing the original policy - A Vision for Change - which was published in 2006, Mental Health Reform has said.
According to the HSE, A Vision for Change provided ‘a framework for building and fostering positive mental health across the entire community and for providing accessible, community-based specialist services for people with mental illness'.
The policy document stated that every citizen in the country ‘should have access to local, specialised and comprehensive mental health service provision that is of the highest standard'.
However, according to Mental Health Reform director, Shari McDaid, this vision is simply not a reality for many.
"A Vision for Change is now starting into its 14th year. While the policy has provided an important framework for the Government's and HSE's efforts to improve mental health services during that time, for many people, the vision has not become a reality.
"More than 6,500 children were waiting for a primary care psychology appointment at the end of May 2018, while many of the services envisaged in the policy were never systematically implemented, including out-of-hours services for children and adults, advocacy services, specialist services for homeless people and people with disabilities, and crisis houses," she noted.
She said that it is ‘widely recognised' that a lot of time was wasted by not having an implementation plan for A Vision for Change.
"Such a plan is recommended by the World Health Organization and Ireland's Mental Health Commission, and should be the first priority when the refreshed mental health policy is published. The Government must demonstrate that the new mental health policy will be supported by the proper structures to deliver on its recommendations," she insisted.
Ms McDaid added that the Government must learn from the past and commit to a costed implementation plan for the updated mental health policy that is due out later this year.
Mental Health Reform is a national coalition promoting improved mental health services. The coalition currently has over 70 member organisations. For more information, click here