A joint motion by Cllr Maeve Yore and Cllr Seán Kelly was passed on Monday at the monthly meeting of Louth CoCo calling for the General Manager HSE Mental health Services CH08 to attend an ‘in camera’ meeting of Council to discuss the provision of mental health services within the County.
Cllr Yore commented ‘I have grave concerns about how services are being run locally and when you look at the national figures in 2019 we lost 317 males and 104 females to suicide in this country. We need a proper plan and pathway for people who find themselves in mental difficulty, not a system that fails and turns away people at their most vulnerable point.’
Cllr Kelly, in his contribution focused on two local families and their tragic experience with Crosslanes. He spoke about the level of engagement or more so the lack of engagement with both Harry Taaffe and Ian Browne when they attempted to be admitted to Crosslanes often with referrals from their GPs stating their life was in imminent danger. The service was not there when they most needed it. He described the sense of desperation and helplessness the men faced and their families as a result. Kelly commented ‘We need answers, not just for these families but to ensure it doesn’t happen again. We are letting our people down, it’s heartbreaking to witness.’
It is hoped that this meeting with the local mental health chief will take place at either the November or December council meeting.
Meanwhile in a response to the Dundalk Leader regarding local mental health facilities the Midlands Louth Meath Community Health Organisation defended their record noting that the suicide numbers for Louth and Meath were below the national average..
“The Department of Psychiatry in Crosslanes, Drogheda is an acute mental health in-patient unit which was opened 2016 with 46 beds, 8 of which are dedicated to Psychiatry of Later Life. Any individual who is referred to the unit by their GP who is seen but not admitted and is deemed to require community follow up is provided with a referral to their local community mental health team. The statistics related to deaths by suicide by patients of Louth Meath Mental Health Services is below the national average.
“In November 2019, Midlands Louth Meath CHO held a briefing with members of Dáil Éireann and Seanad Éireann on a county basis and another, planned for March 2020 was suspended due to Covid-19. Midlands Louth Meath CHO is planning to provide a similar briefing in October 2020 by a virtual meeting platform at which there will be an opportunity to discuss mental health services along with other health matters,” concluded the statement.