Minister for Mental Health announces historic mental health funding deficit cleared
Minister for Mental Health, Mary Butler, TD, has today confirmed that a historic deficit in mental health funding has been cleared in the funding allocation of 2021. These deficits have accumulated over a number of years due to pressures with unfunded increased pay costs and other increased costs for provision of existing levels of service.
Minister Butler stated; “Since coming into post I was acutely aware of this deficit creating an unstable basis for the continued development of services, where deficits had grown to €53 million by the end of 2020. From 2012, considerable development funding has been allocated to mental health to enhance service provision, however this has not been matched with funding for existing services, despite rising costs in this area. It was therefore a priority for me to stabilise as well as improve the overall mental health funding position."
“A once off opportunity presented this year to reduce this deficit to zero. This was done through allocations provided by the Department of Health, HSE Corporate and a small amount of reconfigured historical development funds which were previously unspent due to ongoing difficulties with recruitment, where this also allowed for better alignment of historic funding with more modern models of care”.
Minister Butler continued; “The ability to finally address this deficit, which has been flagged as a recurring issue over recent years, is critical to ensuring that our mental health services can operate effectively and efficiently from a stable funding base. This means continuing to deliver existing services and supports to all those who need them, taking account of demographic changes such as increases in our older and younger populations. It will also ensure that new developments in mental health services can progress, without the risk of development funding being required to address increased service costs.”
The full clearance of this deficit has been called for over recent years by various advocacy organisations in the mental health sector. It will, on a separate basis, enable the HSE to allocate €49 million to new developments in mental health, including €23 million in development funding from Budget 2021 and €26 million in historical development funding. Over 400 new mental health staff are at various stages of recruitment as part of these developments, including the various national mental health clinical programmes, along with initiatives relating to counselling, Advanced Nurse Practitioners as well as mental health services for people experiencing homelessness.
Minister Butler concluded; “Today’s announcement marks a significant achievement in addressing a long-standing issue in mental health funding that will enable enhanced progression of future developments across more stable provision of existing mental health services. This represents a final settlement of the existing deficit and any cost increases for an existing level of service from 2022 and beyond will be considered as part of the normal annual Estimates process in future budgets.”