The National Director for the Health Service Executive's mental health division has said the HSE has faced significant difficulty in recruiting certain staff in the mental health area.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Anne O'Connor said the HSE has experienced challenges filling nursing, medical and psychology posts.

She was responding to HSE figures which show that just 24% of the mental health posts allocated for last year have been filled.

She said the HSE carried out a workforce analysis last year, and that was the reason recruitment of staff only began in the last quarter of 2014.

Ms O'Connor agreed that emergency departments are not a place for mentally ill patients.

She said the HSE had committed to providing out of hours community based services that will be available on Saturday and Sundays.

Additional resources have been put into emergency departments to improve the service, she added.

Mental Health Reform, an organisation which promotes improved mental health services in Ireland, has raised concerns about a lack of staff and rising waiting lists.

The Government's mental health strategy, 'A Vision for Change', recommended a particular focus on multi-disciplinary community based care.

However, figures show that just 61 out of 251 mental health posts that were approved for last year have been filled.

Freephone numbers for those affected by suicide include: Samaritans helpline: 116123 (ROI), 1Life Suicide helpline: 1800247100 and Console National helpline: 1800201890.

Read a special report by RTÉ's Aisling Kenny.