Mental health spending to increase despite rumours

Mental health spending is set to rise this year.

Mental Health spending is set to increase in 2017 by €24.7m, despite popular belief that spending is to be cut from the sector in the 2017 budget.

A claim spread online that €20 million had been cut from the mental health budget after comedians The Rubber Bandits had tweeted just days after budget day.

“The Irish Government just cut €20 million from the mental health budget. 10 people die a week in Ireland by suicide,” the activist comedians tweeted.

The took it upon to themselves to fact check the claim, which they found to be false. In fact, the budget for mental health services in 2017 is up 3 per cent from 2016 at €851.3 million, with an additional €50 million being spent on the construction of a National Forensic Mental Health Hospital.

The claim arose from comments made by the Minister of State for Mental Health, Helen McEntee. €35 million of additional spending on mental health services are to begin in 2017, yet because these services are not ready to come to the forefront yet, only €15 million of this budget will be used next year, which led to the rumour.

This news comes at a time when students who are seeking counselling services are on 183 day waiting lists in colleges nationwide, an increase of 41 per cent since last year. This is due to a 60 per cent increase of students entering third level education.

USI President, Annie Hoey said: “A student in a state of distress being told to wait 183 days until you can get help is insufficient, irresponsible and extremely dangerous.”

In DCU, the average waiting time to see a councillor one-on-one is four to six weeks. Although this is four times lower than the average waiting time in other Irish universities, some students who are struggling with their mental health still find this waiting time too long.

“I’ve been diagnosed with severe anxiety and paranoia,” says one DCU student. “Last year I went to the counselling services in DCU and was seen within the week, this year it’s a different story. I was lucky enough to have my friends around me… sometimes a week is too long to wait.”

Clara Hickey

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