Health Minister Robin Swann today launched a public consultation on a new, ten year Mental Health Strategy for Northern Ireland. The draft Strategy sets out a new vision for mental health in Northern Ireland as well as 29 high level actions designed to take forward significant strategic change over the next decade.
The Minister said: “I am delighted to publish my Department’s draft Mental Health Strategy today for consultation. Mental ill health is a huge challenge for our society. Too many people struggle with being mentally unwell and too many people find it difficult to find the help and support they need when they need it. I am determined to change that, and this Strategy is a key step towards doing just that.”
Key actions set out in the draft Strategy include a commitment to develop a year on year action plan for mental health promotion; greater investment in and further roll out of psychological therapy hubs in primary care; better integration between the statutory and community and voluntary sectors; as well as the creation of a single mental health service to ensure regional consistency, quality and access across Northern Ireland.
Minister Robin Swann commented: “Since becoming Health Minister I have repeatedly noted that mental health is one of my top priorities. I have taken action by appointing Northern Ireland’s first ever Mental Health Champion with cross-Departmental support, by making new financial resources available to mental health, and by publishing a Mental Health Action Plan, including a Covid-19 Mental Health Response Plan. Whilst good progress continues to be made on the implementation of the Action Plan, the additional and significant pressures associated with the pandemic have meant that some target dates have had to be amended. Every effort will continue to be made to move forward as speedily as possible with implementation.
“The publication of this draft Strategy is a significant step forward in this regard. It builds on progress to date and seeks to set out a roadmap to make significant and lasting improvement to mental health, putting the individual and their needs right at the very centre of every decision. It is therefore really important that as many people as possible respond to the consultation and share their views.”
The draft Strategy has been co-produced with a broad range of stakeholders, including people with lived experience, carers, health and social care staff, the interim Mental Health Champion, other government departments, academia and professional bodies.
The Minister concluded by thanking all those who have been involved in developing this draft Strategy. He said: “Your voice, your experience, your expertise and your input have been instrumental in getting us to this point, and this work could not have been done without you.”