A report on mental health has called for the health service to reduce the reliance on prescribed medication by increasing investment in counselling and talk therapies.

It notes the Irish Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy view that there is a dominance of medication in Irish treatment of mental illness and that medication should not always be the first resort.

The report says around €400m a year is spent on psychotropic medication, compared with around €10m for services such as counselling in primary care.

It points to a dearth of talk therapy at primary care level, making it difficult for this form of treatment to be the first resort.

The second interim report from the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Future of Mental Healthcare also calls for an increase in the proportion of the health budget allocated to mental health services.

The HSE service plan this year puts funding for mental health services at €917m, or 6.3% of the overall budget.

The committee says a minimum of 10% should be provided.

It asks that the State consider removing the need for parental consent for under 18s to access mental health services.

It cites submissions to the committee from BeLongTo that the requirement for 16 and 17-year-olds to have parental consent in order to access mental health care is problematic.

This removes autonomy for all people of this age, but for LGBTI young people also, who have not come out to their parents, it can act as a significant barrier to access needed care.

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 The report says there needs to be a realistic timeframe for the provision of 24/7 crisis intervention teams across the country.

This would require a significant increase in clinical staff in the community system and also allow individuals experiencing a mental health crisis to be treated in their own homes.

It calls for a national plan to specifically address capacity in primary care child and adolescent mental health services.

It also says services that are available in the community for both health practitioners and service users must be clearly signposted.

The Joint Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care was set up in July 2017.

Today's report represents the preliminary findings of the committee in three key areas, Primary Care, Recruitment and Funding. The final report is due in October.

In response to the Joint Oireachtas Report on Mental Health, the HSE said it accepts that there is a need for enhanced talk therapy availability at various thresholds of need.

It said that in order to support this, HSE mental health services provided funding to recruit 114 Assistant Psychologist posts in primary care, to focus on early interventions for young people presenting with needs that can be addressed by talk therapies. 

Of the 114 Posts, it said 111 have recently accepted their positions and taken up employment.

The HSE said it was now in the final stages of recruiting the staff required to deliver 24/7 mental health service cover, for the areas that do not currently have a service in place.

Given the timelines involved in recruitment of staff, it said it expects that it will be late Q2 before the services become operational. 

The founder of Pieta House has called for the HSE to be transparent and accountable.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, Joan Freeman said the report uncovered misinformation by the HSE, which she said was accountable to no one.

Ms Freeman said there should be increased investment in primary care so more GPs can help patients.

This week RTÉ's The Big Picture initiative on youth mental health culminates tonight on RTÉ One at 9.35pm with an hour-long TV documentary "Young and Troubled" produced by members of the RTÉ Investigates team which will be followed by live studio discussion.