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PNA General Secretary, Des Kavanagh told the 45th Annual Delegate Conference in Cavan today (Thursday 14 th April) that the appointment of a Minster for Mental Health who honestly acknowledges the deficit in funding of services and who understands the pain and trauma caused by mental illness across society must be a key demand in the talks on the formation of the new government.

Addressing the ADC delegates Des Kavanagh said:

‘We now need a Minister for Mental Illness, a Minister who commits to understanding Mental Illness, not someone who will ponder ‘I often ask myself if Mental Illness really exists', but a Minister who understands the pain of those in the depths of depression, the horrors of those living with serious psychosis, the challenges of living with bipolar disorder and the many other serious illnesses which effect the human across the life span.

We need a Minister who will honestly acknowledge that the annual announcements of ‘increased funding for mental health services of 35 million Euros' is misleading.

As we await the formation of a Government we need a Minister who will say to his/her colleagues that while the closure of mental hospitals was a great achievement for Irish society the incarceration of so many mentally ill in our prisons is shameful and intolerable in a civilised society.

Nurses Pay:

Nurses continue to suffer the effects of losing up to 25% of their income in pay cuts, levies and taxes. Nurses have had to make serious changes to their lives including the cancelling of health insurance, restructuring of mortgage repayments, re-organising of loan repayments, etc.

The sacrifices of our members as well as other public and civil servants have helped significantly in the recovery. We are rapidly moving to a new and better environment.

It is clear that the Lansdowne Road Agreement is fast becoming a relic of history and needs to be scrapped. The road to pay restoration must be embraced with enthusiastic steps which will boost earnings, stimulate the domestic economy and further contribute to growth in employment, reductions in spending on social welfare and boost the tax take

It is most certainly time for our frontline workers to have their earnings restored so that our nurses, paramedics and firefighters can return to becoming fully functioning members of society, borrowing for small developments, enhancing the opportunities for small enterprises, encourage employment and put our banks and credit unions back in business lending money and making profits. However, the new normal must be managed, controlled and properly regulated.

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services :

The Government's failure to provide adequate services to our Children and Adolescents is a disgrace.

In the absence of dedicated CAMHS beds children end up in Acute Psychiatric Units or paediatric wards of General Hospitals. It is also the case that some families are reluctant to allow their child to be admitted to a dedicated CAMHS unit because the facility is 2/3 hours away from their home. An additional complication is the shortage of specialist Psychiatrists for CAMHS. In many cases CAMHS operations have to stop when the Consultant goes on Leave or is off sick.

(The full General Secretary Address is attached.)

Media Contact : Derek Cunningham 086-2430535

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