[Sinn Fein]

10th February 2003

Government must initiate ``fundamental reform'' of mental health services - Ó Caoláin

Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Caoimhghin Ó Caoláin TD has described the Amnesty International report on mental healthcare published today (Monday) as ``an indictment of successive governments and a call to action for the present Government''. Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

``The Amnesty report reveals how mental health is treated as the Cinderella of the health services. Current policy is based on an outdated review going back to 1984. This is an indictment of successive governments who have neglected this area. But it is also a call to action and an opportunity for the Government to begin to put right the many faults in how we treat people with mental health problems.

``People with mental health problems are stigmatised by society and denied the full range of effective treatments because of under-resourcing, lack of proper training and inadequate strategies to deal with mental health in our health services. We have higher than European average rates of involuntary admissions to psychiatric facilities. The rights of people as citizens and as service-users are not being protected.

``Following criticism of Irish mental health provisions by the United Nations last year, Amnesty's is the latest international report to identify how far short of international standards this country falls, especially given the level of economic prosperity in Ireland today.

``The Minister for Health and Children and the Minister for Justice, Equality and Law Reform, with their Government colleagues, should now undertake a fundamental reform of our mental health services. This reform must be based on both rights and resources and should be implemented within a definite timeframe. We will press for such reform in the Dáil and in conjunction with all the concerned agencies who have welcomed Amnesty's report. ``

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