24th September – 16th November 2012
In September 2011, RTÉ broadcast ‘Behind the Walls’, a two-part documentary series that explored the history of psychiatric institutions in Ireland. The programme, which was produced and written by Mary Raftery, was aired just four months before she died. It highlighted damning evidence of the appalling conditions in Irish psychiatric institutions for several decades in the mid-20th Century.
In 2012, mental health remains a key issue for Irish society. According to data from the Central Statistics Office, the number of suicides registered in Ireland rose to 525 in 2011, a seven per cent increase from the previous year. Meanwhile, the sixth and final annual report of the Independent Monitoring Group that oversees the implementation of ‘A Vision for Change’ – the Government’s strategy on mental health services provision – found that its implementation has been “slow and inconsistent”, while noting the absence of a national mental health service directorate with authority to control resources.
In continuing to monitor the state of mental health care in Ireland, the media can draw attention to new and emerging issues and potentially influence the country’s decision-makers to bring about positive change in how we perceive and respond to mental illness. The Mary Raftery Journalism Fund provides journalists with an opportunity to delve deep into this subject matter, and to shine a light on the problems and opportunities evident in this area.
For the autumn 2012 funding round, proposed projects must focus on the topic of mental health, including, but not limited to, such subjects as the running of mental health care institutions in Ireland; the breakdown of stigma; the level of transparency on mental health care expenses; the mental health of minorities in Ireland, such as asylum seekers; and appropriate access to mental health care for adults, children and young people.