A more connected, holistic approach to mental health services would prevent many getting into crisis in the first place, Alliance Assembly candidate Jackie Coade has said.
Newry and Armagh candidate Ms Coade said while health service staff were to be praised for their work in the mental health sector, too many gaps in the service provided meant lots of people were currently missing out on the help they need.
It comes ahead of Alliance outlining a range of priorities relating to health in its upcoming manifesto for the Assembly election. They include focusing on early intervention and prevention, tackling waiting lists, implementing the Bengoa reforms and ensuring every Executive Department has health and well-being as its top priority.
“Mental health is an issue which affects every one of us, which is especially the case after two years of the pandemic and extended periods of lockdown,” she said.
“We have seen the growth in many cases of loneliness, which can exacerbate mental health issues. We have effectively all been traumatised by what we have lived through. Therefore the need for better services and support for those trying to access them has never been greater. That is why we need to greatly enhance and reform the services.
“A number of steps could be taken to create a more connected, holistic approach to tackling mental health, which Alliance believes could be implemented by whichever party takes the Health portfolio in the new Assembly. From mental health first aid training for all schools and workplaces, to separate emergency departments for mental health to ensure nobody is turned away when in need, we need to show mental well-being is a priority.
“Good mental health is something none of us should take for granted. While health service staff are fantastic, filling in the gaps in the service provided could be the difference between life and death for many.”