Concern over access to mental health help

THE WESTERN Trust has said mental health services have been open and available to everyone who needs them throughout the pandemic, although some have questioned this claim.
In a letter to the local Council, responding to concerns previously raised about local mental health provision in recent months, Trust chief executive Dr Anne Kilgallen said the service had remained operational, and highlighted many ways it is being delivered during the pandemic.
“Mental health services have not stopped, and all who need care and treatment will be provided with services that are clinically appropriate.,” she said.
Dr Kilgallen added the Department of Health had met in May to draw up a mental health action plan, which includes a funding plan.
“There is also a plan for dealing with the response to the Covid-19 pandemic,” she said. “The plan will deliver key improvements to services in the short-term, while preparing the ground for future strategic change. It includes a Covid-19 response plan outlining key areas of intervention during the pandemic to help and support the population as a whole.”
However, this is not reflected in the reality for many patients in day to day life, according to some local councillors.
Cllr Josephine Deehan, who is a GP, said while mental health services were continuing, they were not as accessible.
“They may not have stopped but they certainly have been impacted greatly by the Covid pandemic,” she said. 
“Given we are facing into a second surge we need to have a fall back position to protect mental health services.”
Cllr Deehan added: “Mental health services have traditionally been the Cinderella of the health services.”
Cllr Donal O’Cofaigh also called out the claim services had not been stopped and appropriate care was being provided where needed.
“I’m receiving, and I’m sure I’m not the only councillor, numerous constituents indicating they have a mental health diagnosis and they are unable to obtain the support they require. It’s rather the opposite of what is said there.”

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