Deputy Martin Kenny
Speaking in Sligo on Friday, following a conference on the issue of dual diagnosis: mental health and addiction, in the Riverside Hotel, Sinn Féin TD, Martin Kenny, said that the mental health services must respond to the challenges of dual diagnosis, which is a more common phenomenon now than ever before.
Carol Moore of Dual Diagnosis Ireland told the gathering that her experience of the Irish health service was that much improvement had taken place over decades, except in the case of substance misuse and mental illness.
"What other area of the health service is there where if treatment doesn't work, the patient is blamed?" She outlined outdated attitudes and practices surrounding those with dual diagnosis.
Dr Eamon Keenan, a consultant in substance abuse, outlined the growth in the phenomenon of mental illness with substance misuse and the range of "herbal" or legal highs now available and their psychotic effects.
Tomás Murphy, of Sligo/Leitrim mental health services, detailed the services available in Sligo-Leitrim in relation to dual diagnosis.
He said that at present the service was staffed to the level envisaged by Vision for Change and that there is a "no wrong door" policy.
He also drew attention to the patientopinion.ie facility where patients can offer feedback on the services. "And we will take account of what they say," he promised, pointing out that this feedback facility is unique to this area.
Sinn Féin's junior spokesman on mental health and suicide, Pat Buckley TD, opened the event with a reference to the fact that two of his brothers had died by suicide, before introducing Senator Máire Devine, a psychiatric nurse by profession, who called, above all, for more compassion in the services for those with dual diagnosis.
Mary Lou McDonald TD, Sinn Féin Deputy President, was unable to attend as planned, due to illness.