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The Royal College of Psychiatrists Improving the lives of people with mental illness

Psychiatrists welcome Northern Ireland strategy to help people with personality disorder

Embargoed until 30 June 2010

The Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland has welcomed publication of the Department of Health’s strategy to help people with personality disorder.

Dr Philip McGarry, Chair of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Northern Ireland, said: "Personality disorder is misunderstood, and can make life very difficult for many people and sometimes for those around them. However there is increasing evidence that treatment can work and enable people to take responsibility for their lives.

"People with this condition need help to change long standing patterns of behaviour that frequently arise from difficult circumstances or events in their childhood, sometimes including physical or sexual abuse. People with personality disorder often harm themselves as a way of coping with their psychological pain. They are also over-represented in the criminal justice system, and many battle with addictions."

A pilot psychotherapy service in Belfast for a small group of people with personality disorder who self-harm has been very successful, but Dr McGarry said that in general there is very little in the way of services available in Northern Ireland, and people who need intensive therapy are often sent to England for treatment.

He said: "We are obviously disappointed that the budget cuts have resulted in less money than was originally allocated to fund these services, but having a strategy in place acknowledges that there are people who need help and sets a framework for this. This is an excellent framework, not least because the Department genuinely involved people with personality disorder and families in putting it together. It will be up to health Trusts and the prison service to find ways to implement these guidelines, and it is essential that they use the money that has been allocated to do this.

"Personality disorder carries an even greater stigma than many other mental health disorders, and people can become marginalised as some behaviours can be difficult to understand. We are delighted that the Health Minister and his Department have acknowledged that there is genuine need to provide treatment for this group of people."

For further information, please contact:
Sarah Nevins
Press & Social Media Officer
Telephone: 020 3701 2543
Claire McLoughlin
Media & Communications Manager 
Telephone: 020 3701 2544
Out of hours contact number: 07860 755896


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