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Mental health funding essential as COVID restrictions worsen conditions for homeless – Merchants Quay Ireland

 

The webinar, The Effects of COVID-19 on People Experiencing Mental Ill-health, Substance Use Disorder and Homelessness or Housing Insecurity in the Dublin Region, is available HERE.

A copy of the report is available here: The Effects of COVID-19 on People Experiencing Mental Ill-health, Substance Use Disorder and Homelessness or Housing Insecurity in the Dublin Region: A Qualitative Exploration.

 

Merchants Quay Ireland (MQI), the national homeless and addiction charity, has today launched research that shows how increased isolation resulting from COVID-19 is exacerbating mental health problems.

Conducted in collaboration with HSE ACCES, the research highlights how greater investment in mental health services is essential as COVID-19 restrictions continue to worsen conditions for those who are homeless and in addiction.

Launching the report today via webinar Minister Mary Butler said:

“I am very pleased to launch this important report commissioned by Merchants Quay Ireland. Recently, there have been significant developments with a National Clinical Lead and a Programme Manager for the National Clinical Programme for Dual Diagnosis (addiction and mental health difficulties) due to take up post once start dates have been finalised. In addition, funding has been allocated as part of Budget 2021 to expand the clinical care programme for Dual Diagnosis. Plans are also in place to enhance specialist mental health services for people experiencing homelessness who have complex or severe mental health issues.

Implementation of the new national mental health policy Sharing the Vision will improve and reconfigure the mental health system to meet the mental health needs of those experiencing homelessness and those with co-existing existing mental health difficulties and addiction to either alcohol or drugs, through the provision of tiered models of integrated service provision and enhanced supports. Sharing the Vision also seeks to improve the inclusion and recovery of those who have severe mental health problems by enhancing and extending housing, education and employment supports.”

 

Commenting on the report, MQI Chief Executive Paula Byrne said:

“MQI clients experience a huge amount of social exclusion in their everyday lives. This research shows that the increased isolation required to help us mange COVID-19 has exacerbate that social separateness and is negatively impacted people’s mental health.

“Some of the support solutions which will work for the general population, such as tele-medicine or tele-psychiatry, simply will not work for all of our clients at a purely practical level. Most do not have phones that facilitate internet access, and for those that do, they often have no way of charging their phone, no money for credit.

“While being mindful of these challenges, we need to ensure that services like MQI and HSE Access have the capacity to meet the increased demand for mental health services.”

Kathyan Kelly, the independent research consultant who conducted this study commented:

“It is difficult to encapsulate the many day-to-day difficulties faced by the participants in this study: most have no place to call home; for those previously in recovery, there have been relapses; some of the participants with mental ill-health have planned suicide; living conditions make it difficult to follow government guidelines; for some the simple act of eating a proper meal at a table is completely out of reach. Both MQI and HSE ACCES are their de facto family in the absence of family and friends.”

 

-ENDS-

 

Note to the editor:

About Merchants Quay Ireland

Merchants Quay Ireland is a leading Irish charity working with people who are homeless and in addiction. The organisation provides services ranging from open access crisis intervention and health promotion services to day-support programmes, educational programmes, vocational training, residential treatment, detox and prison counselling. www.mqi.ie

 

Research Paper

The Effects of COVID-19 on People Experiencing Mental Ill-health, Substance Use Disorder and Homelessness or Housing Insecurity in the Dublin Region: A Qualitative Exploration.

This research was carried out between Merchants Quay Ireland and the HSE ACCES programme.

 

The research focusses on the lives of ten participants – five linked in with MQI and five linked in with HSE ACCES – who have experience of a mental health illness, substance use issue and/or homelessness, or any combination of these both before and after the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

 

The webinar, The Effects of COVID-19 on People Experiencing Mental Ill-health, Substance Use Disorder and Homelessness or Housing Insecurity in the Dublin Region, is available HERE

A copy of the report is available here: The Effects of COVID-19 on People Experiencing Mental Ill-health, Substance Use Disorder and Homelessness or Housing Insecurity in the Dublin Region: A Qualitative Exploration.

An executive summary of the report is available HERE.

 

The research makes the following recommendations:

 

  • Ring-fenced funding for mental health at statutory, voluntary and community level, in order to allow services to adapt and better respond to needs during emergency situations, to allow services such as MQI to gain direct access to counselling services for those in need, to facilitate face to face engagement between service providers and clients, to ensure that service users can engage with health care professionals without necessitating a mobile phone or internet coverage.

 

  • Increased funding for outreach staffing and services. Services also need to provide an in-reach based service to hostels or those in private emergency accommodation.

 

  • Establishment of substance free/recovery support hostels as clients, particularly those with poor mental health, to support recovery and provide more stability for service users.

 

  • Establishment of safe spaces for homeless women and gender specific services for women who use substances.

 

  • Future research planning for the development and delivery of services should have at its core the direct input of service users through formal consultation, and a study extension to follow up with the same participants as pandemic progressed and with the onset of winter.

 

The speakers at the webinar are:

Ms Kathyan Kelly, Independent Researcher

Kathyan Kelly has a background in health, mental health and communication spanning over thirty years.  She has a BSc in Psychology and a MSc in Social Research. Kathyan has worked on a number of projects as an independent research consultant, and has a specific interest in social inclusion and works predominantly with vulnerable populations. Her work in research has focussed on the experiences of people with mental health issues, substance misuse disorder, intellectual disability as well as working with children in at-risk families and those experiencing homelessness and housing insecurity.

Dr. Joanne Fenton, Consultant Psychiatrist

A member of the board since September 2012, Joanne is a consultant perinatal psychiatrist at the Coombe Women’s & Infants University Hospital, Dublin and a consultant psychiatrist with homeless people in Dublin South City; a joint position she has held since 2004.

Mary Butler TD, Minister for Mental Health and Older People

A Waterford TD, Mary Butler has previously been Fianna Fail’s Spokesperson on Older People and has worked tirelessly in this brief. Minister Butler has recently been a leading force in the Dail COVID-19 Committee, paying special attention to the care off the elderly in Nursing and Residential Homes. Mrs Butler is Waterford’s only ministerial representative and is one of two in the South East Region as a whole.

 

For more information or to arrange an interview please contact:

Laura McDowell
Communications Co-Ordinator
Merchants Quay Ireland
M: 086 779 3206

Email laura.mcdowell@mqi.ie

Website: www.mqi.ie
Facebook: www.facebook.com/MerchantsQuayIR
Twitter: @MerchantsQuayIR

 

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