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Minister for Health announces additional investment in online mental health supports

Minister for Health Simon Harris has today (Sunday) announced an additional €1.1 million euro investment in online mental health supports to help people, especially health services staff, manage their mental health during and following the COVID-19 pandemic.

This funding will allow the HSE to deliver a range of additional online and telephone supports to frontline staff and the general population.

Since this pandemic began, there has been:

  • an increase of 44 per cent in contacts to SpunOut. The numbers of people getting in touch due to anxiety and stress has increased by 100%. During this time over 50% of texters get in touch because they have no one else to talk to and almost half (48%) of texters get in touch because they want to talk to someone who didn't know them.
  • almost 16,000 calls to Alone with 77 per cent reporting they live alone. Loneliness is a common theme among callers.
  • a tenfold growth in people seeking online counselling through MyMind. Of these, 35% are seeking support for anxiety and stress and up to 20% making appointments to seek assistance with depression.

Minister Harris said

The pandemic has cause hurt, pain, tragedy for many people. It has also left many people feeling alone, isolated, anxious and stressed. The additional funding announced today will allow us to increase our reach and help more people.

We know also that our frontline staff need our help more than ever. Every day, they go to work and place themselves in harm's way to protect us.

The HSE has begun some work with staff helping them to manage stress, to take some rest and how to build resilience. In the past two weeks the site was accessed by 1,200 professionals. This funding will allow us to help more frontline staff.

We know staying at home is difficult. This is why we have out together a range of supports through to help you through these difficult times.

But we also know many people will need greater help and that is why YourMentalHealth is there to offer you assistance and guidance at a time when people need it the most.

This funding is an initial step but will allow us to offer some support when you need it the most.

The funding will be used to develop additional online supports such as:

  • online life skills courses supporting people in things like managing stress and developing good sleep hygiene
  • providing new online counselling supports for members of the public and health services staff and volunteers
  • moderated online support groups for members of the public and for staff
  • expanding provision of telepsychiatry services for existing users of mental health services
  • creating additional supports for Leaving Certificate students

Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health and Older People, Jim Daly, said

It is clear that anxiety and stress are growing and will remain with us for quite a while. There is no doubt that additional online supports and interventions will greatly assist individuals and families who are finding it hard to cope during these strange times. I am pleased that additional funding will be provided to develop further online supports for people during this crisis. 

HSE Chief Operations Officer, Anne O’Connor added

We know that the impact of COVID-19 has been a new challenge for us all. Every individual, family and community in Ireland has had to adapt significantly in recent weeks and this has likely affected how we all feel and our sense of mental health. We also know that bereaved families, and our frontline staff, have had a particularly challenging time. Minding their, and our own, mental health is more important now, than ever before. We want everyone to know that there are many supports available and how to use them during this time. Thanks to technology, connecting with mental health supports online, by text or on the telephone, is becoming much easier for everyone. We encourage anyone who is struggling or feeling more anxious and stressed than normal, to reach out and connect with these supports and services today. 

Notes to the Editor

The campaign, hosted on, points people to the HSE’s supports and resources which include many online and telephone services. The campaign also provides tips and advice from cross-Government and Healthy Ireland partners on topics such as physical activity, parenting, managing new daily routines, supporting the ‘cocooned’ and getting involved in the community solidarity efforts.

The HSE website is being continually updated to provide specific advice about minding your mental health during COVID 19 and shares information on how to manage anxiety, maintain positive routines and the importance of retaining social connections. The site also contains links to national, regional and local services available at this time that can assist people with specific mental health needs.