Dáil Éireann - Volume 640 - 31 October, 2007

Written Answers. - Mental Health Services.

[1277] Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children if Budget 2008 will provide for significant increase to resources for the mental health service reflecting the economic and social benefits of investing in prevention and more effective intervention in mental health. [26118/07]

Deputy Dan Neville asked the Minister for Health and Children her views on whether mental health problems account for 12% of what economists call the global burden of disease should the funding for mental health services progressively reach a minimum of 12% which is the total health spend to achieve parity with other areas of the health service. [26119/07]

  Deputy Jimmy Devins: I propose to take Questions Nos. 195 and 196 together.

The proportion of overall health spending on mental health is frequently used to make a point on the adequacy of funding. However, it is not valid to make this comparison. As the nature and scope of total health services change, funding ratios automatically change. The amount spent on mental health services as a proportion of the total expenditure on health services was estimated to be 7.7% in 2007. This amount only reflects expenditure on specialist mental health services. This will amount to €1 billion in 2007.

It is important to bear in mind that some 90% of public mental health services are provided at primary care level. The expenditure on these services is not captured in the figure of 7.7%. This underlines the need for caution when drawing conclusions from percentages of total health expenditure.

It is more meaningful to note that, since 1997, public expenditure on specialist mental health services has trebled. The spending on other services at primary care level has also increased substantially.

Future funding for mental health services will be considered as part of the estimate process for 2008 and future years.