Last week acting Minister for Health, Leo Varadkar, announced that €12m in funding which had been ring fenced for mental health services would now be diverted to other areas. His justification was that the Fine Gael led government had increased funding by 16% to €827 million and that they had secured a number of achievements in the area since coming to power in 2011.
550 people died by suicide last year. I wouldn’t call that an achievement.
Today, during Dáil debates on mental health, Dublin North-West TD Noel Rock took to Twitter to share a picture of the handful of elected representatives who were present.
I counted 10 TDs, that’s one for every person who will die by suicide in Ireland this week.
Varadkar himself was not present for the whole debate. His excuse for leaving early was that he was part of the negotiating team who are still in government formation talks with Fianna Fáil. The same talks that have been going on since after the General Election. . . 9 weeks ago. While I agree that the country does need a Government, these talks should have and could have concluded weeks ago if there was the political will to form a new coalition.
Meanwhile, the backlash has continued online with many, including Limerick rap duo The Rubberbandits taking to social media to vent their frustration.
Mental Health demonstrations are due to take place in Dublin, Cork and Galway this Thursday, April 28th.
You can also find a full list of those TDs who contributed to today’s debates here:
If your local elected representative was not among those who did speak, all TDs contact details are listed here. Make your voice heard.
You can also text PIETA to 50300 to donate €2 or check out http://www.dil.pieta.ie for details of the Darkness into Light events going on around the country on May 7th.
Since Doug Leddin posted an emotional short film about his battle with depression on Facebook yesterday evening, it been viewed over half a million times and has gone super viral, and deservedly so. If you haven’t seen it yet, check it out at the link below.
Leddin has lent his voice to the growing national conversation about mental health joining well known faces like Bressie and the Rubberbandits, both of whom have been particularly vocal in terms of criticizing the Government’s response to what is undoubtably a mental health epidemic in this country and working hard to raise awareness and end the stigma surrounding mental health.
Leddin touches on these issues in his tearful address. He explains that those suffering with mental illness often fear being misunderstood whether by co-workers, employers, friends or family and often suffer in silence, hiding their struggle; ‘The Double Life’.
‘If you asked my family or friends what they thought about me they’d probably tell you that I’m a happy-go-lucky, positive, hard-working and confident guy. But all that’s a bit of a lie. You see, I’m living a completely different life inside. I’m living the life of someone who suffers immensely with depression. And this is so hard for me to talk about, but it’s not just me’.
In taking this brave step, Leddin challenges others to do the same. This is particularly poignant as it is precisely his demographic who are most affected by depression and mental illness. Men are four times more likely to commit suicide than their female counterparts. Last year 550 people took their own lives in this country. I’ll leave you to do the maths.
‘The first step to solving a problem is admitting there is one. How can we expect to find an answer when we’re still afraid of the question?’ he asks.
With 1 in 10 Irish people currently suffering from mental health issues, everyone has a role to play in the fight against depression and mental illness and its high time we all stepped up. We need to shine a light into the darkest corners and we need to do it together.
‘We need to speak up if we’re suffering in silence it’s the only way we’re going to beat the stigma it’s the only way we’re gonna help ourselves and help each other’.