Madam, – “The therapeutic misuse of benzodiazepines in medicine generally is a problem” states Dr Dermot Walsh, former inspector of mental hospitals, (Home News, January 4th). This misuse is now surely widespread in a country crying out for care, compassion and hope.Thanks to Carl O’Brien for once again highlighting an issue of grave concern.
At the launch of Vision for Change I stated it was unlikely to make any difference, based on my experience of working in the field of health and homelessness over a long period. I had witnessed the closure of some hospital premises, with patients discharged to live in facilities much cheaper to run, hostels with no rehabilitation facilities and no appropriately trained staff, where they ended up living in an equally institutionalised setting in which medication continued to be the main element of care. Or they were released to struggling communities with no community support services in place.
If we are serious about ensuring the rights of people with mental health problems are acknowledged and the ever-declining numbers of dedicated staff are not to become more disillusioned and demoralised, action is required.
Change takes time, but why this long? No more reports are required to highlight the inadequacies in our health service.
Our most important asset is our people and history will judge us to have failed our most vulnerable fellow human beings if this situation is allowed to continue.
A new year, a new government, a new set of problems to be addressed should not deflect us from a problem needing urgent attention, highlighted once again in The Irish Times.
Article 1 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights asserts that everyone is entitled to dignity and respect – something we should not forget in these challenging times for all. – Yours, etc,