New national mental health policy launched

Last policy expired in 2016
  • Deborah Condon

A new mental health policy has been launched by the Government, four years after its last policy expired.

Sharing the Vision - a Mental Health Policy for Everyone replaces A Vision for Change, which ran from 2006 to 2016. It will provide a roadmap for mental health services in Ireland over the next 10 years.

According to the Department of Health, the mental health landscape has "changed dramatically" in Ireland since 2006 and the publication of this new policy comes at a time of huge change, particularly in light of the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Sharing the Vision focuses on key areas - promotion, prevention and early intervention, service access, coordination and continuity of care, social inclusion and accountability, and continuous improvement.

"Importantly, it includes an implementation roadmap. It allocates ownership of recommendations to lead agencies and sets time-bound implementation targets against each recommendation's actions. This will be key to its delivery," commented the Minister for Health, Simon Harris.

The policy was developed following a process of research into international innovation and best practice in mental health. An extensive national consultation of over 1,000 service users, family members, friends, carers and other stakeholders also took place.

The publication of the new policy was welcomed by Mental Health Reform, which is a coalition of 75 organisations working in this area. According to its CEO, Fiona Coyle, it "opens a new chapter for Ireland's mental health system".

"This policy sets out a progressive framework for delivering better mental health services. If properly resourced and delivered, this policy can have a transformative impact on our mental health system, meaning people can get access to the support they need in their community to achieve their best possible mental health.

"In particular, we welcome the focus on outcomes and the much greater emphasis on needs of the population and the people who use services. The implementation plan is important to measure what matters the most - the improvement of people's lives," Ms Coyle said.

However, she expressed major concern that no funding commitments have yet been made.

"Delivering this policy will require strong political leadership, consistent funding and a whole-of-government approach, so that issues do not fall between the cracks.

"Mental Health Reform believes that a Super Junior Minster for Mental Health is needed in the next government to take political responsibility for the implementation of the policy and the delivery of a modern and progressive mental health system," Ms Coyle added.

The new policy can be viewed here.


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