Ann Norton seeks greater Govt investment in mental health care
Independent General Election Candidate in Clare, Councillor Ann Norton says the HSE needs to assume a more direct role in the provision of mental health services to counteract the "epidemic" of suicide cases in Ireland.
By: Dunphy PR
Cllr. Norton said that the number of officially reported suicide cases in Ireland was a "mere scratching of the surface" in terms of the actual number of deaths occurring because of suicide.
She noted that prevalence of cases was compounded by the lack of any mental health services for children and adolescents combined with the Government's "shirking of its responsibility"
"Suicide is a growing problem in this country irrespective of what the Central Statistics Office figures show," said Cllr. Norton.
"Depression does not discriminate on the basis of race, age, gender or social circumstances. It can affect any one of us at any time," she added. "Self harm and death by suicide along with the fact that many thousands of Irish people struggle with mental health issues on a daily basis is tragically an issue that few families have not experienced in this country. It is an issue that needs to be highlighted and addressed at the highest level."
Cllr. Norton continued, "As a society we have made considerable progress in relation to a number of sensitive issues such as gay marriage and divorce, but successive Governments have failed to develop a mature and proactive response to the growing mental health issues. Our Health Service expects charities to do the work without providing any significant financial assistance. The bottom line is that Government needs to take a similar direct and proactive approach to addressing mental health issues in this country as it has done with its comprehensive road safety and anti-smoking campaigns."
Councillor Norton is calling for safety checks to be introduced to help identify people who are potentially most at risk and services put in place accordingly to provide urgent care.
"The revolving door policy of our mental health institutions is in essence plastering over the cracks in a health system that fails to recognise the scale of the problem. Instead, such institutions need to be empowered by Government to work with those suffering from mental health issues, as well as their families and loved ones, to ensure all help that is requested is provided," she explained.
"The Government and the HSE must also focus on shortcomings in service delivery for children and adolescents because a lot of people forget this is an issue," stated Cllr. Norton. "There are few services for younger people. For example, there is no bed capacity in Limerick for young people with mental health issues, there is a considerable waiting list for mental health assessments, and there is an absolute lack of available Counsellors publicly or privately for young people. The Government cannot on one hand claim that the young people are the future of this country and on the other hand ignore their plight."
"As a nation, it is incumbent on the Government of the time to protect all of its citizens and to ensure that the most basic rights, in this case access to comprehensive mental health services, is provided. Sadly, Ireland is failing its citizens in this regard and all the while our loved ones, friends and neighbours are continuing to suffer," she added.
Cllr. Norton concluded by praising the work carried out by charity organisations and high profile individuals such as Limerick TD Dan Neville, musician Niall Breslin, and GAA figures Conor Cusack and Maurice Shanahan in highlighting mental health issues. "They have certainly helped in highlighting the issue but public awareness does not negate the Government's own responsibility to tackle the issue."
Ann Norton is an Independent candidate in the upcoming General Election in the Clare constituency. Ann manages the Clare Crusaders Children's Clinic on a voluntary basis. She is a mother of 3 and her oldest daughter Nicole has Cerebral Palsy.