Rubberbandits say government is "spoofing" with mental health budget increase

Mental health services received an "additional" €35 million in the national budget for 2018 on Tuesday.

However, this sum has been called "misleading" by coalition group Mental Health Reform, and "spoofing" by the Rubberbandits. Stating that €20 million of this total was already stated in last years budget.

In a statement yesterday, Director of Mental Health Reform, Shari McDaid expressed her "dismay" at these figures, saying

“In reality, this amounts to just €15M additional funding for mental health services in 2018 which does not fulfil the Confidence and Supply Arrangement in relation to mental health.”

Citing an RTE report from last week, in which it was said that approximately €65 million was required to cope with the current pressures experienced by national mental health services, McDaid added, “new developments including expanding access to out-of-hours mental health services will not be possible within the financial constraints set by this Budget.”

“We call on the Government to fulfil their commitment to invest €55M in mental health services, as per the Confidence and Supply Arrangement.”

Taking to Facebook, the Rubberbandits agreed, writing, "Our unreal government has only increased the mental health budget by 15 million. They say it's 35million, but they're spoofing."

"The country is in a mental health/illness crisis, there's barely any publicly available services to speak of. We all know someone vulnerable who was badly let down by the Irish system. And the Gov have only allocated an extra 15m, far below what's required. They did this on world mental health day too."

In response to McDaid's request, Minister for Health Simon Harris and Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly wrote to confirm that their strategy, A Vision for Change would be fully implemented by 2019. Committing to allocate the full €105 million in development funding as set out in this strategy document, this move on the Department of Health part has been seen as a step in the right direction.

"While we would have preferred the funding to be frontloaded to 2018, we appreciate that the Ministers have instructed the Department of Health to release next year’s funding at the start of the year in order that there would be no delay in implementation of these vital new initiatives," McDaid said in response to this development today.

Commenting on this development, mental health activist and musician Niall Breslin, said, "This is certainly a positive step."


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