18 May 2010

Local Senator Hosts Meeting of International Mental Health Experts

No Health Without Mental Health - Fitzgerald

Local Fine Gael Senator Frances Fitzgerald, together with Fianna Fail Deputy Chris Andrews, hosted a meeting of international mental health experts from around the world.

“As a founding member of the Cross Party Group on Mental Health I was delighted to help facilitate an information-sharing session in the Oireachtas recently. Afterall, there is no health without mental health,” said Frances Fitzgerald.

“The aim of the event was to gain insights that will lead to the improvement of Ireland’s mental health system. The meeting is part of an international conference on mental health leadership taking place in Ireland this week,” she explained.

“I was delighted that it was so successful in bringing together international experts in the field and provided an invaluable opportunity for us to learn about best practice in mental health service provision from around the world,” Senator Frances Fitzgerald continued.

“We are at a tipping point in reforming our mental health service in terms of moving from institutions to community-based services. Furthermore, the recession, according to twenty years of research, poses greater risk to people’s mental health. Here in Lucan and Clondlakin with unemployment figures soaring we need to ensure the proper support structures are in place to help people cope with their changing circumstances. Primary Health Centers must be expanded to cater for mental health needs,” continued Frances.

“At this meeting we heard form people in countries where this has already happened about what has worked and what has hasn’t. The bottom line for us here in Ireland is that every health plan developed by our Government must contain a Mental Health plan,” said Frances Fitzgerald.

“The Cross Party Group is delighted to work so closely with Amnesty International who helped to organize the event and we will continue to work to increase political interest in mental health issues.

Senator Frances Fitzgerald, before entering politics, worked in the frontline of health service as a Social Worker. Through her work in various Dublin hospitals and with disadvantaged communities Frances developed a keen interest in health and in particular the area of mental health. She currently serves as Fine Gael’s Spokesperson on Health in the Senate and is a founder member of the Cross Party Group on Mental Health in the Oireachtas.