Tipperary Fine Gael general election candidate Garret Ahearn plans on fighting to improve mental health services.
Pieta House’s flagship fundraiser takes place at locations in Tipperary and across the world, aimed at winning the wars against suicide and self-harm.
Speaking to The Nationalist on the eve of the 10th annual global movement against suicide and self-harm, Ahearn says providing the necessary mental health services is a “huge issue” in Tipperary and across the country.
“We had a very well attended meeting on mental health services in Clonmel last week with Tipperary's Fight for Mental Health Services group,” Ahearn says.
“The month of May is a time when we try to build awareness of mental health with the Green Ribbon campaign, a national campaign that my brother founded where everyone wears a green ribbon to change the stigma around mental health,” Ahearn continues.
Ahearn plans on fighting to improve mental health services in Tipperary. “The services in Tipperary aren't up to the standard that should be expected and it’s quite similar in a lot of counties outside of Dublin. It's something that I personally will be fighting very hard for.
“If you go to A and E at South Tipperary General Hospital with a mental health issue, you are just left there with everyone else which is totally unexceptable. Overcrowding at South Tipperary General Hospital [is interlinked with mental health and] is a massive issue that needs to be tackled. Hopefully the opening of the primary care centre in Carrick-on-Suir will take some pressure off.
“Minister for Mental Health and Older People Jim Daly has acknowledged that there are challenges in Tipperary - the closure of St. Michael’s has caused huge problems. There is not one bed in Tipperary that is specifically designed for someone suffering with mental health issues - they go to Cork or Kilkenny. He is committed to ensuring that out of the new 40 or 50 beds coming into South Tipperary General Hospital, 10 or 12 of those beds will go to the psychiatric ward. That’s not what everyone wants - some people would lobby very hard to reopen St. Michael’s but at least this is one step in the right direction".
Ahearn says Tipperary needs a spokesperson in Government to fight their corner and get the required services for the county. “We will have a bit of money to spend in the next Budget and to think that we have no one in Government fighting our corner on behalf of Tipperary is a real issue for the county. It is easier for a county to be represented when we have a representative in Government,” he adds.