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IHF welcomes the publication of Future of Mental Health Care Final Report
The Irish Hospice Foundation (IHF) has today (Friday 19 October) welcomed the recently published Joint Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care Final Report.
30,000 people die in Ireland each year, equating to 80 deaths each day (CSO, 2018). Bereavement and loss thus affect large numbers of people in Ireland. While the overall pattern in bereavement and grief is one of adjusting, of keeping the memory and influence of the person who died and creating a ‘new normal, it is also well documented that bereavement has an impact on mental health. An Irish 2016 population-based survey (n=908) found many bereaved reported a deterioration in mental (28%) and physical health (24%) after the death of someone close to them. For a small proportion of people, in Ireland as in other countries, bereavement may become a serious health issue. This can happen for up to 10% of people and requires expert mental health support.
Bereavement should be included in Mental Health Strategy and Policy going forward. Despite all bereaved people having needs, bereavement is invisible in formal policies in Ireland and does not feature as an issue in our overarching health strategies/frameworks.
The IHF has started the process of developing a framework for adult bereavement care. We are currently facilitating collective working with over 50 organisations with an interest or focus in bereavement care to develop and advocate for a framework for bereavement care which we envisage will enhance the care provided to bereaved people in Ireland.
A steering group is progressing this work. The process of consulting with those involved in supporting and understanding bereaved people in Ireland has established that there is a strong appetite for and a belief in working together at a local and national level to make a difference.
However, to ensure excellence in bereavement care becomes a national priority we believe both government departments and NGO’s need to be involved this process.
We would like to take this opportunity to commend the work of the Joint Committee. We agree with the report that it is important to have access to a range of ‘talking therapies’ within the community, particularly those with an appropriate level of knowledge of the impact of bereavement and bereavement care. Currently, those who require this level of support and do not have a medical card only have access to this level of care from private providers. For many, this is out of their reach due to the cost.