24 January 2006

Overhaul of mental health services recommended

RTÉ

24 January 2006 17:15

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Central Mental Hospital Dundrum

A report for Government has recommended the closure of all mental hospitals and the reinvestment of all of the funds released from the move into developing mental health services.

The report of the Expert Group on Mental Health Policy says that €947m is needed over the next seven years to develop mental health services.

The expert group was established three years ago.

Its 300-page report, entitled A Vision for Change, proposes new community mental health teams to work within new population catchment areas with a reduction in the number of inpatient beds for psychiatric patients.

The thrust of the plan is to develop more services in the community, which was the main aim of the last policy report for the sector in 1984.

It says health promotion should be available for all age groups and that the report be accepted and implemented by the Government as a complete plan.

The mental health organisation, Grow, has said the resources made available to the mental health sector have fallen from 13% to less than 7% of the overall health budget.

It said the recommendations of the expert group must be implemented within the agreed timescales.

According to Grow, mental health issues affect every aspect of Irish society, yet it says the sector continues to be under-funded and unattractive as a political issue due to the stigma associated with mental illness.

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