Ireland to get a new Government

Enda Kenny is set to make history on today when he is re-elected Taoiseach, the first Fine Gael Taoiseach to do so. Dáil Eireann will meet today at 12pm to vote on the nomination following the successful negotiations with Fianna Fail and Independent TDs.

After first negotiating a Confidence and Supply Agreement in the ‘Trinity Talks’ with Fianna Fáil, a series of deals were then completed with a range of Independent TDs. Some Independent TDs including Dublin South West TD Katherine Zappone, Roscommon-Galway TD Denis Naughton and Dublin Rathdown TD Shane Ross are also expected to made ministers. Continue reading “Ireland to get a new Government”

FG’s Deputy Spokespersons

Enda Kenny yesterday announced his list of Deputy spokespersons. They are as follows:

Special Responsibilities  		 Name

Food & Fisheries			Shane McEntee TD
CAP Reform				Noel Coonan TD
Forestry				Tom Sheahan TD
Telecommunications		 	Michael D’Arcy TD
Competition and Consumer 	 	Olivia Mitchell TD
Protection
Gaeltacht			 	Dinny McGinley TD
Lifelong Learning 			Ulick Burke TD
& School Transport
Enterprise & Employment			Kieran O’Donnell TD
Local & Community Development	 	James Bannon TD
Housing				 	Terence Flanagan TD
Public Expenditure			Brian Hayes TD
Banking & Credit			Damien English TD
European Affairs			Michael Creed TD
Human Rights/ODA			Pat Breen TD
Irish Diaspora				Paul Connaughton TD
Primary Care & Disability		Denis Naughten TD
Mental Health				Dan Neville TD
Immigration, Integration 		Lucinda Creighton TD
& Equality
Pension & Welfare Reform		Billy Timmins TD
Road Safety				Tom Hayes TD
Sport					John O’Mahony TD
Assistant Whip (and Juvenile 	 	Joe Carey TD
Justice)
North-South Cooperation			Joe McHugh TD

It is good to see Dan Neville staying with Mental Health because his is doing amazing work in that area. It is interesting to see that Lucinda Creighton stays a spokesperson, moving to Immigration, but she will be missed in European Affairs! Michael Creed takes over on European Affairs, that one worries me slightly, I have never really heard him talk about Europe. Noel Coonan has been appointed spokesperson on CAP Reform which shows that FG is taking it seriously. Paul Connaughton gets Irish Diaspora, which is a bit of strange one to me.

Check out ScandalCentral for more commentary on the appointments.

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World Suicide Prevention Day

Today is World Suicide Prevention Day. According to the World Health Organisation 1 million people commit suicide every year. That makes 60 deaths per 100,000 a suicide. Or another way to put it, one death every 40 seconds.

This years theme is “Many Faces, Many Places: Suicide Prevention across the World”. This is to highlight the growing problem of Suicide in the Developing World.

Here in Ireland 527 people committed suicide in 2009. This could be increased by the 195 deaths classified as “undetermined intent”. Taking the accepted figure, it is a 25% increase on 2008. This shows action must be taken.

Not all suicides can be prevented but some actions can be taken. These include the following:

  • Developing and implementing national strategies as well as specific local interventions can lower rates of suicide in diverse populations.
  • Successful approaches to suicide prevention have included:
  1. restricting access to means;
  2. establishing community prevention programs;
  3. establishing guidelines for media reporting;
  4. engaging with frontline professionals through gate keeper training programs.

The International Association for Suicide Prevention (IASP) is calling for “more evidence-based suicide prevention programs throughout the world”.

For the rest of us, the ISAP is asking us to light a candle near a window at 8pm for a number of reasons.

  • To show your support for Suicide Prevention
  • To remember a lost loved one
  • for the survivors of suicide.

For more information look up their Facebook Page and their website

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OpenFM

OpenFM Logo

Yesterday I met with Sam Lyons and Emma Carroll of OpenFM a temporary station that will be broadcast in Dublin over the pride season and will also be online.

The idea behind the station is to create an open space for discussion on LGBT issues, mental health issues and anything else. It wants to create a community space. It wants every one to be open. This is a laudable goal.

They have managed to recruit 72 volunteers who have come together to form the different teams that the station needs to operate. They have tapped into this network and hopefully it will pay off for them!

A look at schedule shows that it is not gay dominated which is something that I actually like about the station. The only definite gay show is Panti’s on a Sunday night and of course the day of the Pride Parade will see it covering the parade live which is a great idea and will bring the parade to those who can’t make it.

This idea hasn’t been tried in Ireland before. Though it does follow the successful model which was set by Christmas FM and Radio Rí Rá. This has been tried in Berlin, Melbourne and Manchester, but all those stations were “very gay”, while OpenFM promises only “a touch of gay” according to Sam. That is even demonstrated in the logo!
It is worthwhile to note that the station is completely voluntary and that in fact two charities have been selected to gain any of the money made from the venture. They are headsup.ie and GCN Forever.

It was interesting to see the logic behind the coupling up of Mental health with pride. And while speaking to Sam you could see the passion he has for this. He and Emma are right to link LGBT (especially youth) and mental health.

I wish OpenFM the best of luck!

They will be launching on June 13th and can be found at FM89.90 and of course online! You can keep up with them on facebook also!

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I am annoyed! – Gov’t to cut Sucide Funds

I just read a piece on Irishhealth.com that points out the the Government are to cut funds to the National Office for Suicide Prevention by 12.5%. The cuts will come to funds availible to mental health support groups.

This is a terrible time for this. Mental Health is underfunded in this country and the fact that the government is to do this is highly annoying. This is aswell a highly stressful time for people with job losses and wage cuts and higher taxes meaning people are under pressure and things will only get worse.

According to Dan Neville TD, the Fine Gael Spokesperson with special responsibility for mental health said

Research into suicide since the 1890s shows that there is an increase in suicide rates and mental illness during times of economic recession. The Minister for Health and the HSE should be responding to this need in the present economic crisis. They are doing the opposite and justifying it on the back of saving a relatively small amount of money

He hits the nail on the head when he says “Government cutbacks in this area at a time of financial crisis amounted to a decision to save money at the expense of lives.”

It is well known and documented that suicide rates increase during recessions, especially if foreclosures are on the increase. As deputy Neville says,

The high rate and threat of home foreclosures is of concern. For most Irish, our homes are our primary investment and the locus of our identities and social support systems. When combined with the loss of employment, home loss or the threat of home loss, has been found to be one of the most common economic strains associated with suicides

Rising unemployment will see a rise in suicide rates, that is a well known and documented fact. Deputy Neville points out the Kelleher/Daly Cork Study in the 1980s, in which two thirds of the men who took their life, were out of work at the time.

As usual the Government will blame the economic crisis for all this, but just like the attempted cut in the disability area in the budget was reversed because of the paltry savings, this should be reversed aswell!

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A Vision For Change – Ministers Response

Well I got a response last week from Minister Harney’s Private Secretary about my enquiry on funding for Vision for Change. I was basically sent a rewritten press release with my name on the top of it. The part they really want to ram home is this I think

In view of the significant additional investment in 2006 and 2007, it is appropriate, in 2008, to pause and review the situation to ensure consolidation of the investment to date.

That is no excuse, and we should not be taking it for an excuse. The investemnt is needed according to the minister letter over “7 – 10 years” so why are we stopping after two years of not complete investment?

According to the Minister

A total of €51.2 million has been allocated since 2006 which represents over a third of the overall requirement

Yet we know that most of this money was not spent on the investemnt it was earmarked for!

I am not happy with the response. I will now be contacting my Local TD’s and Senators. I do not like being misled, which this response clearly is aiming to do.

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Previous Posts:
Last post, actions to follow up
“A Vision For Change” Budget not spent on Mental Health!

Links:
Petition – Implemet Fully “A Vision for Change”

"A Vision For Change" Budget not spent on Mental Health!

From my resaerch on the internet I came across this on the Schizophrenia Ireland Website. It turns out that the budget allocated to A Vision for Change was spent on other areas

Almost half of the budget allocated to the HSE in 2006 and 2007 to implement the mental health policy, A Vision for Change, has been spent on deficits in other areas, according to the Irish Mental Health Coalition (IMHC).

The HSE did set aside the €25 million each year, but then went ahead and spent it on other areas.

The HSE had the following excuse:

The balance of the funding from 2006 and 2007 was time delayed to address core deficits in existing Mental Health services

Bollocks says I. The money set aside was raided by the HSE to keep other things floating. Is that how earmarked money should be spent? This is an area that has suffered under investment for a long time and the HSE seams intent on ensuring it dosent get the investment.

I find my self completly agreeing with John Saunders, Chair of the IMHC

This situation is totally unacceptable. On the second anniversary of the plan it is clear it is floundering already due to a lack of Government commitment.

The Government has yet to set out an implementation plan two years into this programme.

Here are the IMHC recommendations:

• The HSE should finalise, adopt and publish an implementation plan for A Vision for Change as a matter of urgency. The plan should include explicit performance targets and indicators, timelines, and specific resource commitments across all recommendations in A Vision for Change

• The HSE should publish quarterly reports on progress in the implementation of A Vision for Change.

• The HSE should finalise the mental health catchment areas, and establish the mental health catchment area management teams.

• The Department of Health and Children and the HSE should publish an annual breakdown of capital and revenue spend (rather than allocation) in mental health, with spends on service expansions and improvements recommended in A Vision for Change clearly flagged.

• The provision of additional Child and Adolescent services and inpatient facilities must be implemented by the HSE in 2008.

The more I look into this the more annoyed I seam to get. Hopefully the Minister or Minister of State will respond later in the week.

———-
Links:
IMHC PR: Massive under – spend on mental health by HSE revealed
Petition – Implemet Fully “A Vision for Change”

Previous Posts:
Government set to abandon “A Vision for Change”
Last post, actions to follow up

Last post, actions to follow up

While writing my last post, I decided whats the point it just writing the post if I dont do anything about it. So what will I do.

1. Email both the Minister for Health and Children (Mary Harney TD) and Minister of State with responsibility for Disability and Mental Health (Dr. Jimmy Devins TD). When and if I get a response, I will post them.

2. Email my local TD’s and Senators Cork South Central TDs: Micheál Martin FF, Michael McGrath FF, Deirdre Clune FG, Ciarán Lynch LAB and Simon Coveney FG. Senator Jerry Buttimer FG. Any other suggestions?

3. Write a petition. Done and its online here Please sign it.

I wonder which will get the quickest resposnes.

Stay tuned….

Government set to abandon "A Vision for Change"

Yet another example of Bertie and crew changing their tune. This time its on Mental health policy. I received this from the Fine Gael Spokesman on Mental Health, Dan Neville TD. It says and I quote

“This report (A Vision for Change) states explicitly that a minimum of an additional €25 million is required annually for a six-year period to allow implementation of the mental health service expansion and improvement objectives outlined in the policy.

“In 2006, €17 million and in 2007, €10 million was spent for this purpose. In 2008 no additional funding was allocated.

It is fairly obvious that the Government is not willing to fund the Vision for Change. This report by an expert group, was an excellent report when released in 2006 and if the Government had fully implemented it, Ireland’s Mental Health Policy and institutions would be up with the best of them, but they are not.

To again quote Mr. Neville

In 2006, 3,000 children and adolescents waited an average of 15 months for psychiatric assessment with some families waiting as long as four years. In 2007, waiting lists were even longer with 3,598 children waiting for assessment, a third of whom waited for more than 12 months. With no money allocated for the implementation of ‘A Vision of Change’ in 2008, things are likely to get worse.

Clearly the Government is going blind on this issue. With waiting lists going up, it cannot afford to be putting childrens and adolescents psychiatry on the long finger. This is what they are doing. They are closing there eyes and hoping it will go away.

Children and adolescents should not be in adult wards like they currently are. The Government need to allocate the funding to this sector which badly needs it!

——————
Links:
A Vision For Change PDF
FG PR: Government abandons introduction of Mental Health Policy – Neville

Anti-Depressents: My Views and Experience


Yesterday one of the BBC’s top stories was of a report from the University of Hull researchers the popular brands of Anti-depressents (Prozac and Seroxat, among the four studied) are no better then “dummy pills” or placebos.

Now in the past (until November 2007) I was taken an anti depressents for an associated condition (panic attacks). When I first went to my doctor I was but on Seroxat, which I personally hated. It allows feel nothing normally, and when you do feel something its extremes. I can often remember going for walks and going from extasticlly happy to crying, in the space of two minutes.

The listed side effects are as follows:

Common side effects of Seroxat may include suicidal thoughts, headaches, decreased sex drive, agitation, anxiety, nervousness, difficulty with ejaculation, dizziness, dry mouth, fatigue, upset stomach, appetite loss, insomnia, rash, sleepiness, and vomiting.

Source

I suffered from the following side-effects:
*headaches
*decreased sex drive
*agitation
*anxiety
*difficulty with ejaculation
*dizziness
*fatigue
*upset stomach
*appetite loss
*insomnia

Out of 16 side effects I got 10! I know not everyone gets the side effects but as someone who did they are not fun. Thankfully I have a good doctor and I went back to him after two weeks, and he changed my perscription to another SSRI. At the same time as this I was receiving (eventually) help from the HSE in the from of a Consultant Psychiatrist, with whom I have one more appointment with when I return to Ireland, and a Psychotherapist which was an excellent resource for me and helped a great deal. I also had peer support from friends, family and Schizophrenia Ireland’s Basement Resource Centre in Cork. This to me was properly more important then the drug I was taking which the drug I was taking (which had similar side effects but which didnt affect me!)

There needs to be more education about depression and mental illness in Ireland. Nobody talks about it. Its taboo, hence this post. Unlike say in the US people think its normal that you got to a “shrink” or whatever, but here in Ireland its a common view that only ‘wackos’ etc need to go to one. The talking therapies can help everyone get through difficulties. Some days after my therapy I would feel as if a load was taken from my shoulders and I learned effective ways of controilling my anxiety.

In my expeirence of working in a Pharmacy, (April 07 – Dec 07) Irish doctors need to be better educated on SSRI’s and other Anti-depressants. Some Docters perscribe without referral and I think that is wrong. If you a prescribed an anti-depressent you should be reffered for talking therapy also as this is the only way you can over come your problems.

The report, which led to me posting this, is avaible on Open Access from the PLOS Medicine wesbite. Initial Severity and Antidepressant Benefits: A Meta-Analysis of Data Submitted to the Food and Drug Administration
Kirsch1, Deacon, Huedo-Medina, Scoboria, Moore and Johnson