Frank O'Rourke TD
If there was ever a perfect example of the state of the provision of mental health services in Kildare, it’s that a recent appointment of a psychologist for the north the county, while broadly hailed and welcomed, was only a replacement appointment for somebody who left almost three years ago.
The appointment merely brings the services back up to a point they were back in 2015, when they were also inadequate.
Fianna Fáil TD for Kildare North Frank O’Rourke welcomed the appointment saying that he had made it a priority when he was elected and had pursued it since entering the Dail.
He raised the matter with Simon Harris (Minister for Health).
“Kildare was left without a primary care psychologist for a number of months which had a detrimental impact on mental health services in the region.
“This (the new appointment) is a positive development.
“The need for a properly staffed mental health service has never been greater.”
Primary care psychologists play a vital role in assisting people in managing their mental health and promoting psychological wellbeing within communities.
“Fianna Fáil is pushing for additional investment in mental health services in Budget 2018 .
“There has been significant under investment in mental health services in recent years and a change in approach is clearly needed.”
He added that the Vision for Change policy document “which set out a roadmap for developing our mental health services” was first published in 2006 — yet many of its recommendations remain to be addressed.
“The Government urgently needs to refocus its efforts to ensure our mental health services are fit for purpose.”
He pointed out that voluntary organisations were picking up the slack where the HSE services fall back.
He referenced the Abbey Community Project in Celbridge which provides therapy services to people who are experiencing a variety of situations — from bereavement to depression to anxiety, and spoke highly of them.
But whether it’s them or the Samaritans or Pieta House or Hope D, there is a general sense among people working in the various mental health services that the powers that be are relying far too much on the community, charity and voluntary sector to plug the gaps in the service.
Those interviewed by the Leader spoke highly of the work and commitment of people in charities who provided these services, but their existance was seen as symptomatic of the State’s unwillingness to provide a proper, considered and fully financed service.
“The more the voluntary organisations plug that gap, and they do quite an admirable job at it, the more the government is let off the hook,” one person told me.
“What are we paying tax for? Either the government provides a service or it doesn’t? There can be no half measures. The failure to provide adequate services exacerbates the problem.”