Minister of State with Responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD, outlines progress made on the delivery of Sharing the Vision, Ireland’s national mental health strategy.
Sharing the Vision: A Mental Health Policy for Everyone is Ireland’s ambitious national mental health policy to enhance the provision of mental health services and supports across a broad continuum from mental health promotion to specialist mental health delivery during the period from 2020 to 2030.
An unprecedented level of funding, totalling, €1.149 billion was allocated to the overall mental health budget in 2022. This trend was continued in Budget 2023, with €1.2 billion allocated to mental health services. This record budget will allow us to continue to improve mental health services to the benefit of all, through the implementation of Sharing the Vision and Connecting for Life, Ireland’s national suicide prevention strategy.
The vision embodied in Sharing the Vision is to create a mental health system that addresses the needs of the population through a focus on the requirements of the individual. This mental health system should deliver a range of integrated activities to promote positive mental health in the community; it should intervene early when problems develop; and it should enhance the inclusion and recovery of people who have complex mental health difficulties. Service providers should work in partnership with service users and their families to facilitate recovery and reintegration through the provision of accessible, comprehensive, and community-based mental health services.
As Minister of State for Mental Health, the full realisation of Sharing the Vision from policy to practice, to ensure real improvements in mental health service delivery, is a fundamental priority.
I was pleased to establish the National Implementation and Monitoring Committee (NIMC) in 2020 to drive Sharing the Vision forward and ensure robust policy implementation oversight and governance. NIMC is independently chaired by John Saunders, and is supported by a Reference Group of Service Users and Family Members and Specialist Groups. As the HSE has responsibility for the majority of the policy recommendations there is also a HSE Implementation Group (HIG) that reports to NIMC.
“As Minister of State for Mental Health, the full realisation of Sharing the Vision from policy to practice, to ensure real improvements in mental health service delivery, is a fundamental priority.” Minister of State with Responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD
So far, the following specialist groups have been set up to address the implementation of complex recommendations: Youth Mental Health Transitions Specialist Group; Primary Care Specialist Group; Acute Bed Capacity Specialist Group; Digital Specialist Group; and Women’s Mental Health Specialist Group.
Developed in collaboration with key stakeholders, Sharing the Vision Implementation Plan 2022-2024 – the first of three implementation plans – provides detailed three-year plans for each of the policy’s 100 recommendations, including setting milestones to be met each year, and detailing the inputs and outputs necessary for implementation. The plan ensures the continued momentum needed for a successful policy implementation.
Since Q3, 2021 a Policy Implementation Status Report has been published each quarter, alongside NIMC’s Quarterly Report Analysis. The Status Report provides an overview of progress as well as a brief status update for each of the 100 recommendations. The Reference Group also provides feedback to the status reports, bringing the service user and family member perspective.
Two years into the 10-year policy, the vast majority of the 100 recommendations are in implementation stage, with any implementation challenges being closely monitored by NIMC.
Some of the significant developments to date include:
• Continued phased implementation and evaluation of national clinical programmes in mental health. This includes dual diagnosis, early intervention in psychosis, eating disorders, ADHD in adults, and self-harm. The clinical programmes are at the heart of service improvement.
• The opening of a new purpose-built forensic campus in Portrane, County Dublin that enables the provision of a modern forensic mental health service and provides a network of forensic facilities to allow proper and timely intervention.
• Following extensive consultation with stakeholders and a public consultation, the review of the Mental Health Act 2001 was completed and a General Scheme setting out extensive planned amendments to the Act was published in July 2021. A Mental Health Bill is now being drafted by the Office of Parliamentary Counsel in line with this General Scheme. Work on the Bill is ongoing, and I plan to introduce it into the Oireachtas as early as possible in 2023.
• The expedition of developments in online mental health supports and service provision. These initiatives exemplify the whole-of-population approach to mental health service developments that Sharing the Vision promotes. Specific examples include 24-hour text support and guided online therapy.
• Review and service improvement in children and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) to align with the recommendations arising from the Maskey Report (2022).
• Continued development of the recovery approach and the further embedding of the lived experience expertise into service provision through the ongoing development and roll out of initiatives, including peer support working, recovery education, and the individual placement service.
• The Sláintecare Implementation Strategy and Action Plan (2021-2023) and the Women’s Health Action Plan (2022-2023), both of which were published by the Department of Health, and the work of the Taskforce for Mental Health and Addiction Challenges for Persons Coming to the Attention of the Criminal Justice System. All of which align to the recommendations of Sharing the Vision.
Mental health is not a matter for the health sector alone.
The reform promised by Sharing the Vision cannot be achieved without measures being taken by other government departments and state agencies, as well as by the Department of Health, for example, the Comprehensive Employment Strategy for People with Disabilities, and the National Housing Strategy for Disabled People 2022-2027, as aligned strategies to Sharing the Vision.
We will continue to build on innovation and progress achieved already and maintain the momentum necessary to put policy into practice and provide better mental health services for us all.