Action on asylum seeker health is cold comfort
2019-06-01 14:03:31 -

Seanad Éireann has been told that urgent action is needed to address the mental health needs of asylum seekers living in direct provision.


Senator Rónán Mullen, who made the call during a Seanad debate of his motion, also said that early assessment and referral should be provided, where necessary, and that consultant psychiatrists should be assigned to direct provision centres.


The motion from Senator Mullen — who in the past has been criticised for ignorant comments on mental health issues — was supported by Senators Joan Freeman, Marie Louise O’Donnell, Victor Boyhan, Pádraig Ó Céidigh, David Norris and Frances Black.


While we commend these senators for speaking out, it will be cold comfort for the significant number of current and former residents of direct provision centres who have developed mental health issues while living under such conditions.


Organisations working with asylum seekers would attest to this. And mention must be made of an Indian man who, as we previously reported, set himself on fire over the State’s failure to handle his asylum claim properly.


We believe it is in the interest of the Government to urgently address the issue. Finding a solution would not only save the lives of those who are affected, but also ensure that others in our society are safe.


As Senator Mullen stated: “It is not acceptable in Ireland in 2019, where the health spend is bigger than ever before, that our mental health services continue to lag behind those in the rest of Europe. It is an affront to the human dignity of our young people and of those in direct provision who cannot access the services they need to ensure their mental health and well-being.”

TAGS : asylum safety
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