It is almost one year since The Reuven Field Foundation began fundraising efforts to launch Ireland’s first Rural Mobile Mental Health Unit, and I’m proud to announce that on September 1st 2023 the first member of this vital service has begun operations. In partnership with Peter McVerry Trust, we have raised the funds required to employ a Clinical Nurse Specialist (Mental Health Nurse) and provide them with a vehicle. The unit will help Peter McVerry Trust’s “Housing First” and “Housing with Support” tenants living in rural areas who have limited access to mental health services. By bringing this support to people who need it the most, it will not only make their lives easier but it will make their lives more hopeful.
Providing homeless individuals and families a secure tenancy in a house or flat is simply the first step in a challenging journey towards living a full and productive life. One study from a Dublin homeless hostel showed that 81.6% had received a diagnosis for a mental health difficulty (source) and in Northern Ireland another study found that around 70% of homeless people had been diagnosed with a mental health difficulty (source). The numbers and stories involved paint a complex picture that showcases homelessness and mental health difficulties going hand in hand in a majority of cases. Without treatment for underlying mental health difficulties, it is far more challenging to engage in local communities and get back on your feet.
We’ve hit our first year target of €82,500 to fund the Rural Mobile Mental Health Unit, and our plan is to fund the service for 3 years. In 2026 we will look at results across key metrics such as how many clients have successfully maintained their tenancies, and showcase these results to the HSE in order to secure permanent funding. Using the approach of spotting gaps in mental health services, fundraising to fill those gaps with high quality services, then showcasing the impact to the HSE for permanent funding, we aim to change the level of funding for these vital services in Ireland and fulfil our mission of Making Mental Health Services Accessible to All.