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Outrage in Ireland at Mental Health Debate Attendance

28/04/2016 16:01 | Updated 29 April 2016

In the last couple of years, Ireland has had to deal with many difficulties. A lot of it began with the Recession in 2008. In 2016, the country has just started to get itself back on track. This can be said for most areas but not for Mental Health.

In 2008, the HSE National Office for Suicide Prevention, in conjunction with statutory bodies, conducted an in-depth survey, the results of which were used to contribute to the development of National Strategy for action on Suicide Prevention. In the report, it was found that ninety five percent of people agreed that 'talking to a friend or family member' is the first step in maintaining their mental health. This showed an innate link between social acceptance/support and the positive mental health. The report also found that isolation is a big problem in Ireland.

Mental health is a most important, maybe the most important, public health issue, which even
the poorest society must afford to promote, to protect and to invest in."
(World Health Organisation, 2003)

According to this report in 2008 eleven percent of people said they had personally experienced a mental health problem. This number has been steadily growing throughout the years. In 2013 research by Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland indicated that one in five young Irish adults aged 19-24 and one in 6 young people aged 11-13 were experiencing mental disorder. It was also found that people who suffered from a mental health issue are most likely to have further problems in their later years.

Mary Cannon, a Psychiatric Epidemiology Research Group Leader & Associate Professor, RCSI, said: "Our research shows that high numbers of teenagers and young adults in Ireland are experiencing mental ill-health at any given time. For the first time in Ireland, we have evidence showing that young people who experience mental ill-health during adolescence have higher rates of mental disorders and substance misuse during their young adult years and are three times more likely to be unemployed than young adults who did not experience mental ill-health during their adolescence. Compared to similar international studies, the findings suggest that Irish youth may have higher rates of disorder than their peers in Europe and the USA."

On top of this, one in seven children referred to treatment wait over a year for their mental health treatment.

On Tuesday April 26th 2016, it was revealed that twelve million euros out of the thirty-five million euros allocated to combatting and bringing awareness to mental health issues in 2016, had been allocated to other health resources. At this time, Ireland does not have a stable government. The election a couple of weeks ago left the Dáil unsure of how to split the seats. It appears that this uncertainty was reflected in a recent mental health where out of 158 representatives, only ten attended the full debate.

Niall Breslin; an Irish singer, songwriter and advocate for mental health often speaks about his experience suffering from generalized anxiety disorder; tweeted "This is the Dáil right now for mental health debate. Remember this view if we have another election."

The turnout was met with wide scale criticism from the Irish community and many people tweeted the hashtag #IAmAReason: outraged and of the opinion that TDs did not show up because of the instability of the current government and the continued lack of focus on Mental Health issues in Ireland.

On the Claire Byrne Live Show (Tues 26th April 2016) the National Director for Mental Health Services in the HSE, Anne O' Connor revealed that the Department of Health has not given any of the €35 million to the HSE which was to be used for improving services and hiring staff; stating "that funding actually sits with the Department of Health at the moment. So it hasn't come to me, or come to the HSE."

The health system in Ireland has been damaged for a long time. However, there was faith that something was being done to combat the growing issues. Many of the problems can be traced back to the government. If a person if depressed and is taking positive steps to try and help themselves; they should be able to rely on their government for further help. Unfortunately this is not the case. #IAmAReason was started in Ireland and tweeting is a small gesture but with any luck we will not be tweeting it long.

There are services available if you or anyone you know needs help. http://www.mentalhealthireland.ie/need-help-now/ has a list of services you can call if you need support or advice.

In the UK, recent information shows that one in four adults have been diagnosed with a mental health problem. A list of helplines for UK residents can be found here; href="http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/mental-health-helplines.aspx" target="_hplink">http://www.nhs.uk/conditions/stress-anxiety-depression/pages/mental-health-helplines.aspx

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