Fine Gael Kildare South TD Martin Heydon has outlined the urgent need for increased funding for mental health services in Co. Kildare.  He was speaking in the Dail yesterday (Tuesday) evening during a debate on mental health where he focused on young people in Kildare and the need to increase funding for mental health services.

“Kildare has one of the highest levels of young people in the Country. There are 77,832 citizens between the age of 0-24 years in Co. Kildare accounting for more than one third of the county’s population.  This is one of the highest national rates and is also considerably higher than the Eastern and Midlands average. I was surprised to learn that 75% of mental health difficulties arise before the age of 25.  It is therefore even more critical that the services are available and easily accessible in our communities for all our citizens especially young people.

“I believe that Kildare sometimes suffers from a presumption of wealth as we are close to Dublin which has damaged us in terms of funding vital services.  The CAMHS service in Kildare is not fit for purpose at present leaving vulnerable children and families at a loss as to where to turn.  The services were supposed to have moved to the new primary care centre in Kildare town but that move has not yet happened. Any impediments to this move must be addressed immediately.

“While national funding for mental health has increased by 16% under the last government, it is not enough.  Other comparable countries aim for mental health to account for 12% of their health budget, we still have some way to go to meet that target.

“In terms of acute facilities in Kildare the 29 bed Lakeview unit in Naas Hospital is regularly operating at over 100% capacity.  There are an additional 10 beds in portlaoise that are regularly used by Kildare as well as overflow beds in Tallaght that are needed for Kildare residents from time to time. This fragmentation of service delivery causes it’s own difficulties and is not an efficient use of available resources. I understand that a proposed investment plan has been submitted to the department, this needs to be approved and supported without delay.

“Mental Health is one area of public policy where there is cross party agreement in the Dail since the introduction of “A vision for Change” the mental health policy published in 2006.  More investment is needed urgently.  Investment for recruitment of mental health personnel, training for GPs, community based services and a functioning CAHMS service that can see children and their families when they are most at risk, not 12 months later is critical, as is addressing the shortage of suitably qualified professionals.

“I am determined to fight for more resources to alleviate the huge pressures in Kildare and I will be continuing to follow up with both Minister for Health Simon Harris and newly appointed Minister of State Helen McEntee to ensure Kildare gets its fair share of resources towards these necessary services as soon as possible.