Crowe Calls for Mental Health Services for Homeless to Be Addressed

Dublin South West TD Seán Crowe has called for the Mental Health Support services for homeless to be addressed and resourced.  Crowe was speaking after the launch of the Homelessness and Mental Health “Voices of Experience” report which found not surprisingly that severe mental health difficulties are more prevalent among homeless people. This report combined with Dublin Simon’s earlier 2013 findings that 71% of its clients had a diagnosed mental health difficulty with 22% having a diagnosis of psychosis or schizophrenia highlights the challenge and urgent need to act.

Crowe said that a recent short-sighted decision has meant that an ACCESS team that had previously provided specialist mental health services to homeless community is now closed to new referrals.

Deputy Seán Crowe said:

“All international evidence suggests that people who are homeless will more than likely face mental health difficulties as they seek to be housed. Ireland is no different and it doesn’t make any sense that existing services would be run down or closed during our current homeless crisis. That is precisely what is happening with an ACCESS team that previously provided specialist mental health services to the homeless is now closed to new referrals.

Even the most positive indicators suggest that the homeless crisis and the challenges it presents us with, including mental health problems, will be with Irish society for the foreseeable future.

“I agree with the findings of this report from Mental Health Reform that resources must be put in place for the development and delivery of a 7 day a week direct access to community health services already engaged in homeless services and that there is a need to  develop a policy to ensure that homeless people can avail of effective and timely dual diagnosis when they present with difficulties.

“Research conducted in the Tallaght inpatient mental health services found a high proportion of individuals with a housing need with an average of 38% of the patients and 98% of long stay/ delayed discharged inpatients having a lack of adequate housing.  Again this is backing up other statistics and highlights the extent of the challenge on already weakened services

“If the Government and the Minister for Health Simon Harris accept that there is a link between mental health problems, homelessness and the homeless, as studies like the Voices of Experience have shown, then it doesn’t make any sense to be closing or running down existing mental services for the homeless in the midst of the greatest housing crisis this state has ever faced. I am calling on Simon Harris and the HSE to again look at this policy and implement the “Voice of Experience” recommendations. “ENDs