Fine Gael Deputy Peter Fitzpatrick has called for mental health funding in Louth to be brought up to the same level as the rest of the country.
Deputy fitzpatrick was speaking on mental health in the Dail and said that at present the Louth and Meath areas receive €104 per head of population for mental health, whilst the national average is €152.
“It is simply not right that the people of Louth and Meath do not have the same level of funding for mental health services as the rest of the country,” Deputy Fitzpatrick said.
“During the term of the next government I will be seeking a commitment that funding will be increased to at least the national average of €152 per head of population by 2019 at the latest. This is the very least the people of Louth and Meath deserve.
“I believe that each and every citizen should have access to a local, specialised and comprehensive mental health service that is of the highest standard and that these services should be available from an early age.
“While progress has been made in the area of mental health in recent years, a stigma still exists and increased education is needed to address this.
“Starting in schools we should educate our teenagers not only about mental health issues but also the signs of problems amongst their peers. If peers are aware of the dangers and signs of mental health issues then they are in a much better position to help their friends and family when needed.
“With the help of guidance councillors in schools I feel that a programme could be put in place for students to understand mental health issues.
“It is important that we take a holistic view of mental illness and the need to involve the end user and their family at every level of the service provision. Mental health promotion should be available for all age groups to enhance protective factors and decrease risk factors for developing mental health problems.
“I want to emphasise that education at an early stage is the key to a better understanding of mental health issues. Better education in terms of helping people to identify the symptoms and to deal with the effects of mental health issues is extremely important.
“Prevention is better than cure and if we can prevent mental health issues at an early stage then we have a much better outcome for all concerned. I will continue to work to ensure that the Louth Meath area achieves the national average by 2019,” Deputy Fitzpatrick said.
Louth's new Fianna Fail Deputy Declan Breathnach said he was present in the Dáil chamber for statements on mental health.
“I was present in the chamber of Dail Éireann for statements from Minister Varadkar, and supporting statements speaking out against the cuts from Deputy Billy Kelleher.
“Mental health has always, and will always be a priority for me.
“As a former chair of the North East Health Board, I have dealt acutely with many individuals facing huge mental health challenges, in helping them secure the funding and facilities that are so crucial. I also worked for the opening of“An Solasan” a mental health facility to the rear of Louth Hospital which is a residential facility for acute mental health needs in Louth.”
“Mental health issues have been dealt with in cold monetary terms and statistics. Politicians need to be personal and accepting of the issues affecting individuals and families.
“I have been elected by the people to listen , and to work to the best of my abilities in this area,” Deputy Breathanvch said.
It was recently announced that €12 million of the ringfenced for mental health in the last budget has been diverted to other areas of health.