30 Sept 2022

Funding at Carmha raised in the Dail by Tipperary TD

Martin Browne

Martin Browne

Tipperary Sinn Fein TD has raised the issue of funding at Carmha in the Dail this morning. 

Carmha, which does not receive government funding, estimates it will have only enough funding for the first few months of 2022. 

Mr Browne called on the Minister of State responsible for mental health, Mary Butler, to intervene. 

“CARMHA is now at the point where the Minister of State must intervene. I cannot overstate the urgency of this matter, and the future of this service depends on her response,” said Mr Browne. 

He said that Carmha provides an essential service, and people in Nenagh support it. 

Carmha provides peer support and group counselling for people who live with both mental illness and addiction. This is called dual-diagnosis. 

Carmha is a service run in collaboration between mental health professionals and volunteers with lived experience of addiction.  

Mr Browne said that Carmha’s support methods had had a positive impact. 

“CARMHA provides its services in an integrated way and has a very successful track record. That track record is attested to by the fact that the service has catered for many referrals from the Probation Service, among other State agencies, since it has opened,“ said Mr Browne.

Mr Browne pointed out that the HSE funds voluntary groups under Section 38 and 39 of the Health Act but that Carmha had been refused previously.

“As Minister of State with responsibility for mental health, the Minister of State is in a unique position to at least assist CARMHA in sourcing the funding it needs so that it and, more importantly, the people who use its services, can have the certainty that the services it provides now will remain available and funded into the future. 

Otherwise, in the new year, the lack of sustained funding may cause CARMHA to close its doors for good, which would be a travesty for Nenagh and the people from further afield who use its services,” said Mr Browne. 

Ms Butler thanked Mr Browne for raising the issue but said that Carmha would need to follow the funding process already in place.

“In the case of CARMHA, the relevant office is the CHO 3 office for north Tipperary. There is a process in place, and service level agreements are arranged with many agencies. Criteria must be met, and the criteria are analysed. 

After all, taxpayers' money is at stake. There are over 1,000 voluntary organisations in the country. CARMHA must apply, through the local HSE CHO office, for funding to see if it can reach a service level agreement if its services are needed by the HSE,” said Ms Butler. 

She also said that the department was progressing with plans to provide addiction and dual diagnosis services. 

Mr Browne acknowledged Ms Butler’s response but reiterated his request that the Minister of State intervenes. 

“Let us be honest, CARMHA and similar organisations are filling a gap, and their services are needed because vital resources are missing in other areas. I ask the Minister of State to contact the organisation directly with a view to finding a solution so that it and other groups can continue to fill that gap,” said Mr Browne. 

Ms Butler said she had previously met with representatives from Carmha, but that addiction was the responsibility of Minister for State Frank Feighan.

She added that she could not tell the HSE which organisations to fund. 

“As I said, there is a process in place and criteria to be met. As Minister of State, it goes beyond my function to pick up the phone and tell the HSE or any community healthcare organisation to allocate funding to a particular organisation. There are different governance issues and criteria that must be met. These are clearly set out, and any organisation can apply for funding,” said Ms Butler. 

She concluded by saying that she would be making a statement at the end of the week regarding the additional €10million in mental health funding which Mr Browne pointed out had not yet been spent. 

She said that this announcement would benefit various services, including community groups. 

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