SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has called for a greater sharing of information about the number of people presenting at hospital emergency departments in a mental health crisis.
Mr McGrath had asked Health Minister Robin Swann for the number of people presenting at emergency departments when feeling suicidal or having attempted suicide.
He was informed the information was not currently held.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“When I requested information about the number of people presenting to hospital emergency departments in a mental health crisis or having attempted suicide I was surprised no such information was available. They record information around these matters in the South and I can’t understand why we wouldn’t be doing the same here. We know the North is currently experiencing a severe mental health emergency that has only been exacerbated by the coronavirus pandemic, and we should be retaining as much information as possible to measure the current mental health situation and identify areas of greatest need.
“Due to the lack of mental health services people who are struggling with their mental health often have no other option but to attend an emergency department. While these are often not the best places for people going through a period of severe mental health challenges it is sometimes the only option available. People who have tried to take their own lives or caused themselves serious injury are often taken to emergency departments for treatment and we should be recording this information.
“We should leave no stone unturned when formulating our mental health policy. The North’s health system is badly in need of a complete overhaul when it comes to mental health and I welcome Minister Swann’s 10-year mental health strategy. We should be using all the information we can get our hands on to inform policy to tackle the North’s mental health crisis so that we can get people the right kind of treatment when they need it.”