Moving towards ‘Seven Day’ Mental Health Services

The Strategic Portfolio and Programme Management Office (SPPMO) provides the HSE Mental Health Division (MHD) with access to experience and skills in change management and project management as they implement a major programme of change in mental health services in Ireland. In 2016 the SPPMO, which includes a small CES team, developed a project management methodology, produced tools and delivered training to support managers and other professionals in the mental health services. The team is currently supporting the HSE MHD to manage and implement 23 high priority national projects.

A key priority for the HSE Mental Health Division this year is to expand the provision of mental health services across the country to seven days a week.  While some initial work had been done to explore some of the implications of this ambitious development, the HSE MHD asked the SPPMO for support in preparing and producing a detailed, costed plan for how the expansion might be managed. The proposal was submitted to former Minister for Health with responsibility for Mental Health and Older Persons, Helen McEntee in February this year.

The role of the SPPMO

The PMOs role was to support the MHD with an extensive consultation process with Community Mental Health teams across the country, and a needs analysis to inform the proposal. 114 Adult Community Mental Health teams around the country were involved, providing information about services in their area and the needs of local communities.

Feedback from local services indicated that the expansion should be managed on a phased basis. The first phase will involve expanding existing community services so that they are available during the day at weekends. A second phase would further extend the hours of mental health services, including psychiatric emergency care and crisis care, so that it is eventually available twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week.  

Implementation of the plan to expand the services is key, and will require formal approval from the Mental Health Change Board in July. The work is a significant step in moving us closer to seven day mental health services across the country.