The challenge in mental health is to transform services to enable people with mental health difficulties to lead self-determined lives as valued members of the community. It involves a move away from traditional, often expensive, services which group and segregate people focussing on their deficits rather than their strengths to those which are personalised, recovery-focussed and cost-effective.

Mental Health Worldwide

Mental health is a most important, maybe the most important, public health issue, which even the poorest society must afford to promote, to protect and to invest in.” (World Health Organisation, 2003)

Mental health difficulties are very common with one in four people in the world affected by mental/neurological difficulties at some point in their lives. The World Health Organisation estimates 450 million people currently suffer from mental health difficulties making it one of the leading causes of ill-health worldwide and that number is increasing year on year (WHO Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020). However, nearly two-thirds of people with a known mental disorder never seek help due to fear of stigma and discrimination. (WHO, 2012)

Evidence shows that accessibility to mental health care of people with longer-term mental disorders is much better with community-based services than with the traditional psychiatric hospitals (Thornicroft & Tansella, 2003) and community-based services are associated with greater user satisfaction and increased met needs. 

Mental Health in Ireland

National mental health policy in Ireland sets out a framework for building and fostering positive mental health across the entire community and for providing accessible, community-based, specialist services for people with mental health difficulties (A Vision for Change, Department of Health, 2006). Although some progress has been made in supporting people with mental health difficulties, certain challenges remain in the Irish context. In particular, 

  • Supported Community Living - there are over 2,400 people currently resident in psychiatric hospitals, with 36% having been there continuously for one year or more (HRB 2016). 
  • Advancing the Recovery model of service which centres on people with mental health issues learning the skills and tools to be able to take back power and recover control of life. Recovery is a unique journey for each person and services need to be personalised in order to contribute effectively.
  • Mental Health at Work - a recent survey (2011) indicated that with 41% of people would not discuss their mental health problems with their employer.
  • Mental health and homelessness - addressing the needs of people with mental health difficulties who are homeless.

Stigma and awareness raising is perhaps the greatest challenge facing Irish society. Over 50% of people reportedly live with the symptoms of mental ill-health for long periods without accessing mental health advice or treatment. This is due mainly to the stigma that surrounds mental health as well as lack of knowledge about mental health problems and sources of help (St Patrick’s University Hospital, 2011).

We have worked with the Department of Health, the HSE and the Atlantic Philanthropies to develop The Service Reform Fund (SRF) to support this transformation in mental health and disability services in Ireland. The SRF will scale service reforms already demonstrated as a result of our collaboration with Government and the Atlantic Philanthropies during 2010-2015.

    Specialists in transforming social services

    We work with Government and Philanthropy
    to support people in leading self-determined lives

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