Pandemic inquiry must not ignore mental health and long COVID – Naughten

In Disability, Families, Health, News by Denis Naughten

Denis Naughten TD is calling for a thorough evaluation of Ireland’s COVID-19 response, with a strong emphasis on the mental health crisis and the impact of long COVID “as the country prepares for potential future pandemics, these issues must be addressed to ensure a more resilient health system”.


The COVID-19 pandemic has significantly increased pressure on mental health services, particularly affecting younger and older people. Recent studies show a worrying rise in antipsychotic drug prescriptions from 2020 to 2022, highlighting the severe mental health toll. The Regional Independents stress the importance of a detailed evaluation of the mental health impact, with specific recommendations to address the crisis exacerbated by the pandemic.


“Our mental health services were already under severe pressure before COVID-19. The pandemic has only made things worse,” said Denis Naughten who made a submission to Government (see attached) on behalf of the Regional Independents. “We need actionable recommendations to support those struggling with mental health issues, especially our younger and older populations.”


The submission also highlights the urgent need to address long COVID, a condition affecting over 5% of Irish adults. Many people living with long COVID experience reduced ability to perform daily activities, with symptoms like fatigue, shortness of breath, and memory problems. This condition not only affects individual health but also has broader implications for the workforce and economy.


“Long COVID is a serious issue that can’t be ignored,” added Denis Naughten.

“We need comprehensive research and dedicated resources to understand and manage this condition effectively. Our evaluation should include a separate module focusing on long COVID to uncover its full impact.”



Editors Note:

For more details, read the full blog post:

Detailed submission to Government

Key Points of the Submission:

  1. Honesty and Objectivity:
    The evaluation should look at the decisions made during the pandemic without pointing fingers. The government had to make tough choices with limited information. It’s essential to understand the outcomes of these decisions and avoid repeating mistakes.
  2. Evidence-Based Decisions:
    There is a need to scrutinise the claim that decisions were based on “the science”. A 2022 study showed political biases influenced health decisions across Europe. Ireland’s review should ensure that future decisions are truly evidence-based and consider economic and societal factors.
  3. Recognising Frontline Workers:
    The vital role of frontline workers, who risked their lives to keep the public safe, should be acknowledged. Their efforts were crucial during the pandemic.
  4. Mental Health Impact:
    The pandemic increased pressure on mental health services, especially for younger and older people. The evaluation should include recommendations to address the mental health crisis exacerbated by COVID-19.
  5. Impact on Children and Older People:
    Restrictions had a significant impact on children and older people. The evaluation should look at the long-term effects on their health and wellbeing.
  6. Health Services and Delayed Diagnoses:
    The pandemic led to delays in diagnosing non-COVID illnesses, like cancer. A detailed analysis is needed to understand the full impact on healthcare services.
  7. Addressing Disability and Long COVID:
    The evaluation must consider the rise in disability claims and the impact of long COVID. Over 5% of Irish adults are living with long COVID symptoms, affecting their daily lives and work.
  8. Future Preparedness:
    The evaluation should help build resilience for future pandemics. This includes developing trauma programmes, improving pandemic response strategies, and maintaining strategic stocks of PPE.