CLLR SARAH OREILLY: Mexican stand-off between Gardaí and staff at the Central Mental Hospital - Aontú
Aontú Cllr & Cathaoirleach of Cavan County Council, Sarah O’Reilly, has raised serious concerns over the lack of mental health facilities, following a described ‘Mexican stand-off’ between Gardaí and staff at the Central Mental Hospital.
“Mental Health is an issue in Irish politics which is given a huge amount of lip service, but is not given the resources and facilities the issue needs. That under-resourcing is having very real world effects, as seen in the Mexican stand-off between Gardaí and staff at the Central Mental Hospital yesterday. Due to lack of resources and facilities, staff are being put in a position they never should have been in. A Court had ordered the admission of the man to the CMH who was in need of psychiatric assistance. The man’s mental health had been failed by the justice system and was being turned away due to lack of beds at the CMH. There is a standing waiting list of around 30 prisoners for a bed at a given time. The lack of resources and mental health facilities across the country is a ticking time bomb, ever aggravated by a global pandemic and draconian lockdowns.”
“The total allocation to the Mental Health Budget €50 million. How that is meant to meet the needs of people across the country is beyond me. We have heard worrying reports of spikes in self-harm and mental health decline across all sectors of society. I have spoken to parents of a child with autism who they fear is depressed, and they have to prevent him from watching the news or reading the newspaper to try improve his mental health state. A paper commissioned by the Mental Health Commission on access to Acute Mental Health Beds in Ireland published very worrying findings. Of all the Community Health Organisations across the country, none have the recommended number of older aged adult acute mental health beds, with 64% having none whatsoever. Several units are being used for other purposes. In each mental health area, there is an ‘almost total absence of crises houses, intensive care high support hostels, rehabilitation high support hostels and specialist rehabilitation units.’ Seven units have occupancy levels of 100% or greater.”
“The government is failing in its duty of care towards those with mental health challenges. We need to be doing more to target our resources in our mental health response. If three pay rises for TDs can be approved during a pandemic, the mental health budget can be increased. If millions can be spent on special advisors, mental health resources can be increased. Time to end the lip service and start boosting resources and facilities to where they need to be.”