Young people of Louth failed by Mental Health services – SFRY

Sinn Fein Republican Youth have outlined their concern at the low figures of staffing in the Community Health Organisation of which Louth is a part, following the report published yesterday by UNICEF that saw youth suicide rates in Ireland ranking fourth highest in the EU. 

 

A spokesperson for SFRY said;

“A Vision for Change was a document that provided much hope for young people throughout this county; setting attainable benchmarks for the Government to reach regarding number of staff required to meet demand.

 

“Unfortunately in the CHO region for Louth only 57% of this figure has been realised. As of April there were 102 Child and Adolescent Mental Health staff employed in the region; with another 76 staff being required to fulfil the 178 recommended in Vision for Change. 

 

“I know I speak for the young people of Louth when I say we feel we have been utterly failed by the services in the area; not because of the staff who do fantastic work, but rather the unwillingness by this Government and the one that went before it.

 

“Having lost friends to suicide, and knowing so many others who have lost loved ones, it’s frightening to think that what is in effect an epidemic, can be left on the backburner. 

 

“Too many young lives are lost to suicide in Louth annually. We as young people must be protected by the services we require, and not be viewed as just another statistic in the local death notices.”

 

If anyone is feeling low or experiencing feelings of despair or thoughts which may lead to suicide, please phone one of the numbers below and speak to someone:

 

SOSAD  041 984 8754

 

Pieta House (Freephone) 1800 247 247

                     Text HELP to 51444

 

Samaritans  (Freephone) 116 123

 

Remember, you are not alone! 

 

 

RTÉ Investigates report requires recall of Dáil – Gerry Adams TD

Following the broadcast of the RTÉ Investigates programme tonight, Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD has said that the circumstances surrounding the murder of Garda Tony Golden, the attempted murder of Siobhan Phillips and the suicide of Crevan Mackin warrant a criminal investigation.

Deputy Adams also called for the Dáil to be recalled next week to allow the Minister for Justice to make a statement on the matter and to answer questions.

He said;

“The murder of Garda Tony Golden, the attempted murder of Siobhan Phillips, and the suicide of Crevan Mackin raise serious and fundamental questions about the role of elements of An Garda Síochána in the circumstances surrounding his arrest in January 2015 and the events in Omeath in October of that year.

“The evidence would indicate that Crevan Mackin was working as a Garda agent at the time of his arrest in January 2015 or subsequent to it. As a result the Gardaí did not charge him with firearms and explosives offences which he admitted to during his questioning in Dundalk Garda station. Subsequently his bail was significantly reduced and he was released from Portlaoise Prison.

“The Garda also failed to thoroughly investigate the information in their possession about other weapons which Mackin had access to.

“Answers must also be provided as to why Gardaí, at both Dundalk and Carlingford stations, refused to register a complaint or to take a statement from Siobhan Phillips when she was visibly scarred, slashed and frightened for her life as a result of serious abuse by Mackin. Her parents, who accompanied her, were also fearful for their daughter’s safety and indeed for their own lives.

“I have previously written to Minister for Justice Frances Fitzgerald on eight occasions, to the Taoiseach four times, and to GSOC three times, to express my grave concerns regarding this case.

“Given the information I provided, I would have expected Minister Fitzgerald and the Taoiseach, after a reasonable period of time, to ensure a proper investigation into the circumstances which led to the shooting of Garda Golden and Siobhan Phillips took place.

“The responses of both the Taoiseach and Minister for Justice have been unsatisfactory.

“I have never received any indication that the government was taking this matter seriously.

“Given that it was known by some senior figures in An Garda Síochána that Crevan Mackin had access to weapons Siobhan Phillips and Garda Golden should not have been placed in this perilous situation.

“The arrest, interrogation and subsequent treatment of Crevan Mackin, an individual with known serious mental health issues, was entirely inappropriate.

“All of the families affected by this need to have truth about the circumstances of Crevan Mackin’s arrest, questioning, charging and relationship with An Garda Síochána.

“Those responsible must be held accountable and, if necessary, they must face a criminal investigation and possibly charges.

“The Taoiseach must now recall the Dáil for next week so that the Minister for Justice can make a full statement and take questions on this very serious matter.”

Adams raises Mental Health Provision in Louth with Taoiseach and Minister McEntee

DSC_3254_6510Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams raised his concerns about mental health facilities in north Louth during Leaders Questions with the Taoiseach this morning. Mr. Adams called on the government to provide a time frame for the full implementation of the mental health programme ‘Vision for Change.’

The focus of Teachta Adams question centred on the report that there have been sixteen suicides in Cork in a fortnight. And the impact of this on families and communities. The Louth TD made the point that suicide and deficiencies in mental health services is an issue in Louth as well as in other parts of the island of Ireland.

Teachta Adams said:

“Suicide affects all sections and all generations are affected, from the very young to the very old, in rural and urban areas. It’s a human cost beyond comprehension.  One in seven adults will experience mental health challenges in any given year. In 2015, there were 451 recorded suicides in this State and 318 in the north, though we all know under reporting is wide spread.

The real figure for suicide across the island may be as high as one thousand people annually. It has also been recorded that at least 8,790 citizens presented with self-harm at hospitals across the State.

Last month I visited the Ladywell mental health day centre in Dundalk, which provides services for most of north Louth. The staff are extremely dedicated, but the conditions in which they are forced to treat patients is entirely unsuitable. The rooms are originally staff quarters which date back to when the hospital was first built seventy years ago. Some rooms are closed because of dampness. The maintenance bill alone is a constant drain on resources.

And whilst staff numbers have increased, there’s no room for them in Ladywell so they have to work out of St. Brigid’s in Ardee, with patients as far away as Carlingford having to travel there.

It’s entirely unacceptable, and they are of course just one of many units across the State that desperately need additional funding and an overhaul of facilities.

This morning I wrote to the Minister of State with responsibility for mental health Helen McEntee.  I asked her to provide a time frame for the delivery of a Primary Care Centre in Dundalk or, if this is not possible, to commit to the renovation and extension of the existing facilities at Ladywell to ensure adequate mental healthcare provision for the people of North Louth.

The State’s mental health policy ‘A Vision for Change’ has been in place since 2006. Despite that and ten years later there is still an absence of 24/7 crisis care. Staffing levels across the board are about 75% of the ‘Vision for Change’ recommended number. In some areas, they are way behind that figure.

In child and adolescent teams, staffing is just half of that recommended. The government committed to providing 8.24% of the health budget to mental health services. This target has never been met.

This pattern was repeated in this year’s budget. €35 million was announced, but the Minister then said just €15 million in additional funds would be provided for next year. An increase of less than two percent.

The government has a responsibility to provide a firm time frame for the implementation of Vision for Change.”

All-Ireland mental health and suicide strategy is essential – Adams

Cllrs Kevin Meenan, Joanna Byrne & Pearse McGeough with Gerry Adams TD at the Tree of Hope

Cllrs Kevin Meenan, Joanna Byrne & Pearse McGeough with Gerry Adams TD at the Tree of Hope

Sinn Féin President Gerry Adams TD today planted ‘A Tree of Hope’ at the Muirhevnamor Community Centre in Dundalk in “remembrance of all of those who have died by suicide; those who have survived, including the bereaved families; and as evidence of our collective determination to encourage the allocation of more resources to tackle suicide.”

The event was organised by the Muirhevnamor Community Council. The Louth TD thanked the Council for organising the tree planting and all of those groups and individuals who provide services for those at risk of suicide and self-harm. He also welcomed the announcement at the weekend by the Sinn Féin Health Minister in the North, Michelle O’Neill MLA, to launch a consultation on Protect Life 2 – a strategy for suicide prevention in that part of the island.

Teachta Adams said:

“I want to welcome Minister O’Neill’s initiative. This is an important effort to meet the challenge of suicide. The Minister for Health in this state also needs to review the current mental health and suicide strategies.

Gerry Adams TD with SOSAD volunteer

Gerry Adams TD with SOSAD volunteer

I believe that only through joined up mental health and suicide strategies on this island can we effectively tackle these difficult issues. A mark of Sinn Féin’s commitment on this issue is that our Deputy Leader Mary Lou McDonald insisted on taking up this brief.

The 2017 Budget is due for publication in early October. This will be the real test of the government’s commitment to mental health services. There has to be greater investment in mental health programmes, including 24 seven access to services for people who need it.

Later this month as a contribution to this Sinn Fein will be holding a conference in Dublin on dual diagnosis. Sinn Féin will also be training our staff in suicide prevention practices.

The sad reality is that there is not a single family on this island that has not been affected by the challenge of mental health issues. Linked to this is the issue of suicide. It is now believed that the real figure for suicide across the island of Ireland is as high as 1,000 people annually.

The emotional impact on families and communities is huge. Many are left wondering why someone decides to take their life and if they could have prevented it.

In the aftermath of a suicide, especially of a young person, the potential of others also taking their own lives is high.

I remember visiting the wake homes of four young victims from the Upper Springfield area in west Belfast who had all died from suicide within days of each other.

There is no single or easy explanation for someone deciding to take their life. In my experience the reasons can be many; mental health problems, loneliness, alcohol and substance misuse, an absence of hope for the future, can all contribute to suicide. There is also a clear and direct correlation between deprivation and suicide.

In every statistical analysis that I have read areas of high unemployment and deprivation suffer greater levels of suicide. At the same time, suicide is no respecter of class or age or gender.

In addition this state has the fourth highest rate of suicide among teenagers within the European Union. The Psychological Society of Ireland called last week for a greater focus on the threat of suicide among teens. This requires the introduction of preventative strategies to tackle mental health issues among young people. Intervention at an early stage  is much better than trying to deal with the aftermath of a suicide.

Critically, an all-island suicide prevention strategy which coordinates mental health agencies on the island and manages resources more effectively is essential. Responsibility for this lies with the governments.

Committee of Muirhevna Mor Community Centre with Gerry Adams TD and SF Cllrs

Committee of Muirhevna Mor Community Centre with Gerry Adams TD & SF Cllrs & Community Garda

Note:

For further information on the suicide charities log on to suicideorsurvive.ie and pieta.ie

Samaritans also provides support via samaritans.org or by phone on 116 123

Adams asks Minister for Children to visit Mosney Direct Provision Centre

DSC_3254_6510Louth TD Gerry Adams has written to the Minister for Children, Catherine Zappone, to highlight concerns for children living in the Mosney Direct Provision Centre and to ask her to visit the site.

The Sinn Féin President said;

“There are currently 119 children living on the Mosney site.

“In May 2015 HIQA published report on the Child Welfare and Protection Services being provided to children and families in Direct Provision.  This report found significantly higher incidents of referral to TUSLA of children living in direct provision than in the general population and Minister Zappone has confirmed to me that social services are currently involved in 12 child welfare or protection cases at the Mosney centre.

“Following publication of the HIQA report I posed a series of questions to the then Minister, James Reilly.  Contained within the response, which was provided by TUSLA, was a commitment to identify two practitioners, one from Child Protection Services and one from Family Support Services, to act as Liaison Officers with the Reception and Integration Agency to provide a direct line of communication and referral for both services.

“In May 2016 I asked Minister Zappone if these commitments had been delivered and she responded saying that she is still waiting for information regarding these two appointments.

“A year has passed since I initially posed these questions and 15 months have passed since the publication of the HIQA report.  These key staff will help ensure the safety and well being of the children resident in Mosney and they should have been appointed long ago.

“I have visited Mosney numerous times and I have spoken about the conditions the people there are existing in.  I have asked Minister Zappone to visit Mosney with me.

“There are huge problems within the Direct Provision system which was originally intended to accommodate asylum seekers for six months. Today almost half of the 4,324 people living in the system have been there for five years.

“Residents in these centres are not allowed to work and they survive on a State subsidy of €19 per week per adult and less than €10 per week for a child.

“Conditions in the centres are unacceptable. They are overcrowded, with families often sharing one room. Basic essentials like soap, toilet rolls and other items are rationed. Residents must pay for prescription medication.  There are limited recreational or living areas and the stress on those in the centres, especially from the fear of deportation is a constant worry.

“Media reports are indicting that yesterday a Korean woman living in a Direct Provision Centre in Cork died by suicide.  This is a tragedy for this women’s family, particularly her son, and all supports must be provided to this child and the other residents at this time.”