Mental health budget to be protected

Amnesty International Ireland has welcomed the recent commitment from Health Minister Mary Harney to protect mental health spending in Tuesday's Budget.

The Minister recently announced that the five per cent cut that is being implemented in health spending next year will not apply across the board and will not be applied to mental health and disability services, as these are priorities and affect the most marginalised in society.

Amnesty Research and legal Manager Fiona Crowley said the Minister's commitment was welcome, as the mental health sector had already been hit hard by cuts.

"At just 5.3% of the overall health spend, spending on mental health is at its lowest level in modern history. In 2009 alone, the service haemmorhaged staff at a greater rate than the rest of the health service."

Ms Crowley said the current financial crisis was making the mental health crisis worse.

"Financial stress, debt and unemployment are putting a massive burden on people's mental health. This makes it vital that Minister Harney publicly commits not only to protecting mental helath spending, but also to continue the crucial reform programme set out in A Vision for Change."

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