Mental health and disabilities services are in crisis

Mental health and disabilities services are in crisis

It's been a busy few weeks. I was a speaker at the Cystic Fibrosis Conference in Sligo last week talking about resilience.

Unsurprisingly, people with Cystic Fibrosis have higher levels of resilience than the normal population.

Lar Brennan from Wexford had a double lung transplant and is so inspirational. He is a personal trainer and when he trains and works out he offers it to his donor. When he goes to bed he asks “Have I done enough today?” What a powerful question. How would you answer that question?

Mental Health In Crisis

I am standing for Seanad Éireann as an Independent on the (NUI) panel on a mental health and disability platform. I want solutions to our mental health crises. Ten people die a week by suicide, creating ripples of profound loss, sadness and lost years. It’s a silent scream.

In Ireland your mental health problems have to deteriorate to severe levels before intervention happens. When this happens it’s more often a pharmacological intervention as there is limited access to ‘talk therapies’.

1-2 years is the consistent waiting time. Imagine going to A&E with a broken arm and being told to come back in 2 years.

It is rare in a suicidal crisis that the attention people need is medical. They require expert psychological, emotional and social support. Standard approaches to emotional and psychological distress and mental health difficulties are not enough.

There is no evidence that standard counselling or anti depressant medication are sufficient to address suicide.

A&E is the worst place to be when in a suicidal crisis. The environment that would actually help would be calm and quiet, staffed by people trained in managing suicidal, emotional, psychological, behavioural crises and distress, with the time to maintain psychological clarity, calmness and focus on resolving the issue.

A 24 hour ‘crisis house’ model, drop in centre, or crisis support network if properly staffed and resourced, could achieve this, with next day appointments. It would require access to suicide specific psychological interventions, social care and social work supports as well as helping professionals.

Disability Services in Crises

The disabilities services crisis is down to a lack of funding and understanding from those who hold the purse strings. Daily I see the impact on families as they struggle to get early intervention services or diagnosis for Autism Spectrum presentations. When it comes to school age, services drop significantly. In adulthood its even worse.

As one mum told me “Once school finishes they fall off a cliff - and are all put in the one great basket, regardless of age, ability, literacy, independence, physical or intellectual competences“. Surely we can do better as a society.


I want to bring my expertise to the Seanad. There are 75,000 NUI Seanad postal votes out there. 20,000 are expected to be returned. What about the other 55,000? Find where these votes are and ask people to put a passionate voice for Mental Health & Disabilities in the Seanad.

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