Government spending on mental health supports for Gardaí has increased over the last three years which is a clear sign of the commitment to prioritise the well-being of Gardaí, Fine Gael TD Neale Richmond has said.
“We all know the mental health toll of this pandemic has been horrendous for everyone in our society, particularly our front-line heroes such as members of An Garda Síochána. Last weekend’s protest in Dublin showed a brief glimpse of the physical and verbal abuse that our Gardaí face nearly every day,” Deputy Richmond said.
“Therefore, it is vital we ensure the appropriate supports are in place to allow Gardaí to continue their work to the best of their ability.
“The value of mental health supports cannot be underestimated; sadly, over the past three years 13 members of An Garda Síochána have taken their own lives, including members serving in my own constituency.
“Thankfully, spending on Garda occupational health, including counselling and therapeutic psychology has been on the rise steadily since 2018.
“While this increase in funding is welcome, it must be coupled with a genuine effort to destigmatise mental health concerns in An Garda Síochána to ensure those who need supports feel comfortable availing of them. This requires continued culture change in the organisation.
“As confirmed to me through Parliamentary Question to Minister for Justice Helen McEntee, spending on counselling and therapeutic psychology has increased from €28,575 in 2018 to €41,912.60 in 2019 and €23,568.20 as per June 2020.
“This comes on the back of a Gardaí survey that found that 63% of Gardai have experienced trauma at work, with the average Garda having a mental health rating of 6.8/10.
“We have seen an increase in spending on supports such as a 24/7 Helpline and Counselling Service, a chaplaincy service, the Peer Supporters Network, the Garda Employment Assistance Scheme, the Garda Occupational Health service and access to independent mental health specialists.
“Additionally, spending on independent specialist medical reports has increased from €102,645 in 2018, to €140,380 in 2019 and €100,590 as of June 2020.
“The mission of An Garda Síochána is ‘Keeping People Safe’ and they do so by placing themselves in harm’s way to protect our communities and families, witnessing some of the worst crimes our society has experienced.
“I welcome this rise in funding, however, it cannot be temporary, this spending pattern and associated cultural change must continue for years to come.”
Notes to Editor:
Neale Richmond is available for interview.