Mental Health Entries
Posted April 26th, 2013
Wicklow TD and Convenor of the Dáil Cross Party Group on Mental Health, Simon Harris, launches Loreto Bray students’ guide to promoting positive mental health.
Deputy Simon Harris visited Loreto Secondary School, Bray yesterday (Thursday) for the launch of an exciting new initiative on promoting positive mental health amongst students in the school. Students in Loreto Bray produced and launched a booklet entitled “Building Resilience” outlining tips and ideas on how students should nurture and protect their mental health.
Speaking at yesterday’s launch Deputy Harris commended the students for their dedication and focus.
‘Positive mental health is something I am championing in the Dáil and I am delighted to see the students in Loreto Bray taking such a proactive approach to addressing mental health concerns. We all have a mental health to look after, just like our physical health.
‘Changing perceptions on mental health need to start in school so that people can be given the tools to look after themselves and the pressures that will come throughout life. It is so great to see Loreto Bray come together and work on promoting positive mental health. Such was the dedication of students and teachers in the school that they came into the school over their summer holidays last year to work on this project. This week we have seen the benefits of all their hard work and effort.
‘I plan to speak to Minister for Mental Health to see how other schools can follow the example of Loreto Bray in getting a head start on promoting positive mental health. I would like to congratulate the students and teachers for their hard work and wish them well with the guide. I would also like to thank them for their warm welcome to their school. I am proud to represent them in the Dáil as they lead the way with this great initiative and I truly hope other schools throughout the country follow their lead.
Harris brings Men’s’ Shed Movement & Gaelic Players Association to Dail to discuss creating positive mental health in our communities
Posted March 21st, 2013
Wicklow Fine Gael TD and Co-Convenor of the Oireachtas Cross Party Group on Mental Health, Deputy Simon Harris recently hosted a meeting in the Dail with representatives of the Men’s Shed Movement and the Gaelic Players Association to discuss the importance of creating an environment of positive mental health in our local communities.
Speaking about the event, Deputy Harris said, “It is important when we talk about mental health and tackling mental illness that we do not just look at the macro level. We need to also look at what we can all do in our communities, what initiatives can work locally and how we can get involved. Both the Men’s Shed Movement and the Gaelic Players Association have a brilliant record of being involved in local initiatives in County Wicklow and throughout the country to promote positive mental health in a practical way.”
“There are now more than 115 Men’s Sheds on the island of Ireland including a number in towns across County Wicklow including Greystones and Arklow. These projects recognise that men traditionally talk ‘ shoulder to shoulder’ and hence provide a supportive environment for people to carry out mutually agreed projects, make friends, share experiences and so on. This movement has been hugely successful in Ireland after originating in Australia and I look forward to seeing it grow here in Ireland, “stated Deputy Harris.
“There is no doubt that sport and physical activity can assist us in protecting and promoting both good physical and good mental health. The GAA has a proud tradition and great clubs right throughout Wicklow. Gaelic players are leaders in their community and role models to many young people. It is brilliant to see the Gaelic Players’ Association embracing positive mental health initiatives and lending their support to society’s collective work in this important area,” continued Deputy Harris.
“In my role as Co-Convenor of the Cross –Party Group on Mental Health, I will continue to work with all sectors of our community to put in place plans and ideas to promote a culture of positive mental health in Wicklow. This meeting in Leinster House enabled many of us to learn of new projects and to hear of great initiatives which we can put to use locally,” concluded Deputy Harris.
Posted September 21st, 2012
Finally, Ireland will have modern legislation respectfully addressing how the State interacts with vulnerable adults – The offensive “Lunancy Act” of 1798 to be replaced at long last
Wicklow Fine Gael TD Simon Harris has welcomed confirmation from the Minister for Justice that new mental capacity legislation will be published in the Dáil by the end of the year. This new legislation will be the first piece of legislation in our country’s post-independent history addressing how the law interacts with vulnerable adults and will replace the “Lunancy Act” which dates from the 18th Century.
Speaking on this issue, Deputy Harris said, “Finally this country is about to step into the 21st Century with new legislation which is respectful, tolerant and inclusive of the needs of vulnerable adults in Ireland in terms of how the law interacts with them. This has been a long time coming and I am delighted that we will now deliver on this issue.”
“Minister Shatter has informed me in the Dáil that the Mental Capacity Bill will be published before the end of the year and the drafting of the Bill is at an advanced stage. Furthermore, he has assured me that this legislation will take into account the Law Reform Commission’s report and recommendations in this area,” stated Deputy Harris.
“The enactment of new mental capacity legislation is one of the core elements of remaining work to be completed to enable Ireland to ratify the UN Convention of the Rights of Persons with Disabilities. I look forward to this Bill progressing through the Oireachtas and contributing to this important debate,” concluded Deputy Harris.
Posted June 13th, 2012
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris has welcomed the publication of a new leaflet outlining the variety of mental health services available in Wicklow. Speaking after the launch of the leaflet in Arklow, Deputy Harris said, “I am delighted to see clear and comprehensive advice being provided to support people facing mental health challenges.”
“The leaflet provides phone numbers for mental health services throughout the county, as well as common sense advice for people concerned about their own mental health. I think it is a very promising step to see mental health issues being proactively addressed, so that people know they can look for help when they need to.”
“This is an area that is particularly important to me as a result of my work as a Convenor of the Oireachtas Cross Party Group on Mental Health. I would like to congratulate the County Wicklow Partnership and all the local organisations involved in the production of this leaflet. It is great to see the whole community coming together to talk about mental health in a positive way – this is how we break down barriers and remove the stigma that is unfortunately still associated with mental health problems.”
“Please contact my office on 01 281 3727 if you would like a copy of the leaflet.”
Posted May 3rd, 2012
Taoiseach confirms important new legislation will be debated in the Dáil before summer.
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, and Co Convenor of the Oireachtas Cross Party Group on Mental Health has called on the Taoiseach to confirm when new Mental Capacity legislation will be introduced.
Speaking in the Dáil yesterday, Wednesday, Deputy Harris said this legislation has been promised by successive Governments for many years, but groups were now anxious for a definitive timeframe. The Taoiseach confirmed the legislation will be published in the current Dáil session, which runs until mid-July.
Welcoming the Taoiseach’s comments, Deputy Harris said, “New legislation is urgently needed to ensure the basis human rights of vulnerable people are protected when they interact with the state and the judicial system. Our current laws in this area date back to 1798. Obviously our understanding of the capabilities of people with reduced mental capacity and the supports that can assist them has changed hugely since then. Our legislation must reflect this.”
“I will continue to act as an advocate on issues of mental health and capacity throughout my time in the Dáil. I look forward to speaking on this important legislation and working with my colleagues from all parties and backgrounds to make sure we will finally have legislation in this area that is fit for purpose.”
Posted April 26th, 2012
Oireachtas Cross Party Group on Mental Health launches Spotlight report on mental health education.
Fine Gael Wicklow TD, Simon Harris, has said that schools can play a significant part in educating young people about caring for their mental health.
Speaking at the Oireachtas Cross Party Group on Mental Health report launch, Deputy Harris, a Co Convenor of the group said, “Our education system needs to give students to tools they need to excel in all aspects of their life. Knowing how to care for their mental health is a skill that will stand to them throughout their careers as students, in the workplace and with their families.”
“The research shows that mental health promotion is most effective when it takes place early in a person’s life. For maximum impact, mental health promotion must be reflected across every element of the school’s approach and this will require buy-in from parents, teachers and students.”
“Teaching children how talk about mental health issues before they become serious problems is one of the most important skills we can give them. I will be working hard with my colleagues on the Cross Party Group on Mental Health to continue to advocate for better mental health education in our schools, and a better understanding of mental health issues overall.”
Posted November 17th, 2011
Fine Gael TD for Wicklow, Simon Harris TD, yesterday (Wednesday) highlighted the need to ensure that our children and young people leave school with the tools they need to look after their mental health, and the knowledge that there is no shame in seeking help from the professionals best positioned to provide it.
Speaking in the Dáil during the Topical Issues Debate on the need for mental health education in Irish schools, Deputy Harris said: ‘The reality is that one in four people experience mental health difficulties at some stage in their lives. These problems have been kept behind closed doors in this country for too long. We need to introduce a syllabus which will ensure that young people leave school with the confidence to talk about their mental health, and are fully equipped to cope with any mental health issues they may encounter’.
“In the same way that we have implemented anti-bullying strategies in schools, there is also the potential here to teach children and young people about caring for their mental health before they develop any entrenched attitudes to it. This will ensure that every child receives the same message on mental health and knows that it is ok to seek help.
“In Scotland, following a successful two-year pilot programme, the Positive Mental Attitudes Curriculum has been adopted by the Education Department. Children are given the opportunity to engage with mental health in the classroom, and to discuss issues that may affect them with their teachers and their peers. As it is a national curriculum, teachers are provided with lesson suggestions and worksheets, and a DVD of anecdotal scenarios to highlight mental health issues young people or their friends or family members may be experiencing.
“It is time for a discussion on mental health which is about more than resources, and which addresses the culture of how we talk about mental health. Schools an ideal environment for young people to learn from both their teachers and their peers.”
Posted October 20th, 2011
Wicklow Fine Gael TD, and Co-Convenor of the Oireachtas Cross Party Group on Mental Health, Simon Harris, has received assurances from An Taoiseach, Enda Kenny, that the long-awaited Mental Health Capacity Bill will be published early in the new year.
Deputy Harris said, “When it comes to helping vulnerable people interact with our judicial system, we still operate under draconian legislation from 1798, the Lunacy Act. Not only is the terminology used in this Act highly insulting to people with mental health problems and their families, but it is wholly unfit for purpose.”
“Under the current legislation, a person who is made a ward of court is prevented from making a wide range of everyday decisions that most people take for granted: they cannot consent to medical treatment, manage their own finances, marry, or even transfer residence without the permission of the High Court.”
“New legislation is urgently needed to ensure the basic human rights of these individuals are respected and upheld, and I welcome the Taoiseach’s commitment to publishing this legislation in early 2012. This will be an important step in implementing the mental health strategy report, A Vision for Change.”
I welcome the response I have received from the Minister of State with Responsibility for Mental Health, Kathleen Lynch TD, who reaffirmed the Government’s commitment to implementing the report’s recommendations in answer to a Parliamentary Question I had tabled.”
“I was also pleased to learn the HSE is currently preparing an implementation plan, which will identify specific recommendations from A Vision for Change that can be progressed over the next three years, with detailed cost, structures and identifiable persons responsible for driving change and delivering on the commitments made in the Programme for Government.”
“I am wholly committed to holding the Government to account on the issue of mental health and I will continue to act as an advocate for improved mental health services throughout my time in the Dáil.”
Posted October 12th, 2011
DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister for Health (Dr. James Reilly)
To ask the Minister for Health his plans to recognise Fibromyalgia as an accepted Health Service Executive illness, allowing sufferers to benefit from a range of HSE supports and services, including home help hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Simon Harris T.D.
Fibromyalgia is an distinct condition under the current version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). This classification of disease is the international standard by which diseases are classified and is accepted by Ireland and endorsed by the World Health Organisation. The diagnosis and management of Fibromyalgia takes place in a number of settings including primary care, specialist services and rehabilitation, if required. There are no plans to change the range of supports available to patients with Fibromyalgia.
To ask the Minister for Health if he intends to recognise Meineres disease as an accepted Health Service Executive illness, allowing sufferers to benefit from a range of HSE supports and services, including home help hours; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Simon Harris T.D.
Menieres disease is an distinct condition under the current version of the International Classification of Diseases (ICD-10). This classification of disease is the international standard by which diseases are classified and is accepted by Ireland and endorsed by the World Health Organisation. The diagnosis and management of Menieres disease takes place in a number of settings including primary care, specialist services and rehabilitation, if required. There are no plans to change the range of supports available to patients with Menieres disease.
DÁIL QUESTION addressed to the Minister of State at the Department of Health (Ms. Shortall)
To ask the Minister for Health his plans to remove the requirement for Apert syndrome sufferers to have to continually reapply for their medical cards; if his attention has been drawn to the stress that the current re-application requirement and procedure places on sufferers and their families; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Simon Harris
Under the General Medical Card Scheme, medical cards are made available to persons and their dependants who would otherwise experience undue hardship in meeting the cost of general practitioners services. Eligibility for the medical card is based primarily on the means of the adult and his/her spouse or civil partner. Two years is now the average period nationally for which an individual or family holds a medical card before formal review under the General Medical Scheme (GMS). The review process is an important quality assurance aspect of the management of the GMS.
The HSE has no plans to change these arrangements.
DÁIL QUESTIONS addressed to the Minister of State at the Department of Health (Ms. Lynch)
To ask the Minister for Health the position regarding the implementation of the mental health strategy, A Vision for Change; the funding in place for the implementation of this plan; the timeframe on the implementation; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
- Simon Harris
The Government has prioritised the reform of the mental health service in line with A Vision for Change. This commitment was clearly shown in the Programme for Government which provides that €35 million will be ring-fenced annually from within the overall health budget to develop community mental health services and to ensure early access to more appropriate services for adults and children. This is currently being considered as part of the Estimates process for 2012 and future years. In addition, as 90% of mental health needs are dealt with at primary care level, the Government is committed to developing closer links between mental health services and primary care. It is envisaged that the provision of improved community-based services will ensure that people with mental health problems receive the treatment and after-care support needed to facilitate recovery.
A Vision for Change contains some 200 recommendations to be implemented over a 7 – 10 year timeframe. As implementation of the recommendations is primarily the responsibility of the Health Service Executive (HSE), the HSE appointed an Assistant National Director as the national lead for mental health to ensure delivery of mental health services in line with Government policy. While it is accepted that progress on implementation has been slower than originally anticipated, services in many parts of the country are pressing ahead with implementation which includes the phased closure of psychiatric hospitals. Significant progress has been achieved to date including: shorter episodes of in-patient care, improved child and adolescent mental health services, fewer involuntary admissions and the involvement of service users in all aspects of mental health policy, service planning and delivery.
It is the Government’s intention that over time access to modern mental health services in the community will be significantly improved and my priority as Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health will be to further advance the implementation of A Vision for Change. Towards this end, I have asked the HSE to prepare an implementation plan, which will identify specific recommendations of A Vision for Change that can be progressed over the next three years, with timelines, detailed costs, structures and identifiable person(s) responsible for driving the change including delivery on the commitments in our Programme for Government. Issues related to staffing levels particularly in community mental health teams will be examined in this context.
A Vision for Change also recognised that all citizens should be treated equally and that access to employment for people with mental health difficulties should be on the same basis as any other citizen. We are endeavouring, through housing, education and community based health care, to provide the environment in which employment opportunities can be availed of by all on an equal basis.
To ask the Minister for Health his plans to address the major lack of adequate child and adolescent psychiatric services in County Wicklow; the services that are currently in place; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Simon Harris T.D.
As this is a service matter the question has been referred to the HSE for direct reply.
To ask the Minister for Health his policy on palliative care; if he will provide details of the implementation plan for this policy; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
Simon Harris T.D.
Government policy in relation to Palliative Care is contained in the Report of the National Advisory Committee on Palliative Care (2001). The provision of modern, quality services is high on our agenda and is being approached in the context of overall health reforms as proposed in the Programme for Government In this context, our immediate aim relates to advancing the priorities as agreed in the HSE Service Plan for 2011 which includes;
· Implementing the various Care at End-of-Life projects, agreed between the HSE and the Irish Hospice Foundation, via the Dignity and Design Challenge Fund.
· Progress the National Children’s Palliative Care Policy.
· Develop a new Minimum Data for Palliative Care to give better information for future policies and services.
We also intend to progress various other initiatives, in line with overall resources and consultation with relevant stakeholders. These include progressing:
· The HSE Five Year/Medium Term Development Framework (2009-13).
· Bereavement Support Services
· The Hospice Friendly Hospitals Programme
· On-going initiatives in relation to palliative care and advanced respiratory disease, heart failure and dementia.
The Department of Health will continue to liaise closely with the HSE, and relevant non-statutory providers, to ensure the best possible service provision for Palliative Care recipients.
To ask the Minister for Health the position regarding the provision of a hospice for County Wicklow; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Simon Harris
As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.
To ask the Minister for Health the number of hospices here; the location of these hospices and the level of support, financial and otherwise, that these hospices receive form him and the public health service; and if he will make a statement on the matter.
– Simon Harris
As this is a service matter it has been referred to the Health Service Executive for direct reply.
Posted October 10th, 2011
Fine Gael Deputy, Simon Harris TD, marked International Mental Health Day (October 10th) by launching the pre-Budget submission of the Oireachtas Cross Party Group on Mental Health. Deputy Harris is a Co-Convenor of the Cross Party Group, which brings politicians from across the political spectrum together to prioritise the issue of mental health reform.
Deputy Harris said, “The theme of this year’s mental health day is ‘The Great Push Forward: Investing in Mental Health’. With this theme in mind, and as the Government turns its attention towards the forthcoming Budget, I am pleased to have had the opportunity to work together with my colleagues in highlighting the absolute importance of implementing mental health policy.”
I would also like to take the opportunity of International Mental Health Day to commend the many organisations throughout County Wicklow which work to promote positive mental health,” stated Deputy Harris.
“Much work remains to be done in the Oireachtas on the issue and I am committed to doing all that I can to ensure necessary actions are taken to improve our standard of mental health care,” concluded Deputy Harris.