Deputy Byrne has called on the HSE to invest more funding into its public mental health services in Meath, where 295 people are currently waiting to commence counselling for depression, anxiety and other personal difficulties.
And new data provided by the HSE to Deputy Byrne also shows that some 246 people have been waiting up to six months to receive help under the HSE’s Counselling in Primary Care(CIPC)scheme, while 45 people have waiting for between seven and nine months.
Deputy Byrne said: “A total of 720 clients in Meath have been referred to the service from January to October this year. People in the county are literally crying out for help from the State, but are having to endure very long delays in getting the appointments that they are entitled to.
“These service users have limited means and cannot afford private counselling. They are highly dependent on the HSE to support them in their time of need. People living in distress, without professional support, are potentially at risk of harm to themselves and others. Ireland continues to have high suicide rates and ongoing anecdotal evidence indicates this remains a very serious problem, particularly among young people.
“The HSE has got to put more money and more staff into the CIPC service in county Meath. This will slash the waiting lists. It will also ensure that people in the county can discuss their problems before they develop further and get much worse.
“Minister Harris also needs to review the operation of this scheme to see how it can be operated more efficiently. HSE regional management must reconsider what it can do to alleviate this problem.
“The service itself should also be operated as simply as possible so that medical card holders are assessed swiftly, and can avail of short-term counselling with the minimum of bureaucratic constraint.”