More investment in talking therapies needed

Counsellors and psychotherapists are calling on the Government to increase investment in talking therapies, so that more people can access these services when they need them.

Talking therapies involve talking to someone who is appropriately trained to help you deal with problems you may be having. These could include ongoing mental health problems, such as depression and anxiety, or a current crisis, such as relationship issues, bereavement or infertility.

Talking therapies include counselling, psychotherapy and cognitive behavioural therapy.

The Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (IACP) has published its 2020 pre-Budget submission. It noted that a recent survey carried out on its behalf found that 92% of adults think it is a good idea to seek counselling or psychotherapeutic support if you are struggling with your mental health.

However, according to IACP chief executive, Lisa Molloy, "affordability can be a barrier for some".

"A way to increase accessibility is to make services more affordable with financial support from the Government. Our submission calls for increased investment in talking therapies from the Government through a number of measures," Ms Molloy explained.

One of the measures suggested by the IACP is a feasibility study to introduce counselling supports for secondary school students.

According to research by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland, by the age of 13, one in three Irish children will experience a mental health difficulty.

Last May, at a presentation in Leinster House, the IACP outlined a proposal for the expansion of existing mental health supports to secondary schools, via the introduction of a State funded, on-call counselling support service for children who need onward referral from schools.

While these types of supports are available in many other countries, there is no such established national support system available in Ireland. The IACP has proposed that the first step in this process would be to run a feasibility study.

This would involve selecting six secondary schools in areas with long waiting lists for mental health assessment and supports. These schools would be provided with access to therapists on an on-call basis for a six-month period.

The IACP is seeking Government support to fund this feasibility study, which it estimates will cost €96,000.

"Therapeutic counselling for school going children is a proven cost-effective early intervention with the ability to alleviate distress for young people, as well as pressure on overstretched mental health services," it said.

The full 2020 pre-Budget submission can be viewed here.


[Posted: Wed 28/08/2019]

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