On Thursday 19th May 2016, I was honoured to be asked by An Taoiseach Enda Kenny T.D. to serve as the new Minister for Mental Health and Older People. This was a role I undertook for over a year until my appointment as Minister for European Affairs by the new Taoiseach Leo Varadkar T.D.
During my 13 months as Minister for Mental Health and Older people I worked very closely with my senior Fine Gael colleague in the Department Minister Simon Harris T.D. and my colleague Ministers of State in providing political leadership on improving services for those suffering a mental health difficulty, as well as their families and carers, and giving a voice to service users in the design and implementation of their treatment and services.
I am glad that in just 13 months a new Taskforce on Youth Mental Health began its work, soon every County/Region will have its own Suicide Action Plan – Connecting for Life, we have started the debate on a new funding model for Home Care and the need to reform the Fair Deal scheme for Farmers and Business Owners, and work will soon began on the long awaited new 130-bed National Forensic Mental Health Service at Portrane Co Dublin, which will replace Ireland’s Victorian Central Mental Health Hospital in Dundrum.
As Minister in this area I recognised and respected the dignity, and the potential, of older people in our society, as well as the huge voluntary work done by individuals and organisations in both sectors.