Political crisis having devastating toll on mental health services

Northern Ireland news, Online news
16 June 2022

Northern Ireland’s political crisis is having a devastating toll on plans to improve mental health services, psychiatrists warned today.

Last June, the publication of a new Mental Health Strategy including funding plan was launched which set out the future of services over the next decade.

The plan identified an investment need of £1.2bn over the next 10 years.

But because there is no sitting government – there can be no approval of the funding.

Health Minister, Robin Swann MLA said at the time of the launch in 2021 that the “Covid pandemic would result in up to 32% more referrals over the next three years”.

Now leading psychiatrists are demanding that politicians get back around the table to agree it as soon as possible - for the sake of the nation’s mental health.

Dr Richard Wilson, chair of RCPsych NI, said:

“Having no sitting government to approve important decisions around the future of our mental health services is not sustainable nor a good situation to be in.

“As doctors working on the frontline, we’re already seeing an increase in patients seeking help for mental health conditions, especially because of the pandemic.

“We worked with the Department for Health and other stakeholders to come up with a Strategy that put our patients at its core.

“It’s disappointing that these plans are stalled because of the lack of a sitting government in Stormont.

“Our patients desperately need funding for the Strategy to be approved. We need a collective effort for the benefit of everyone’s mental health in Northern Ireland.”

Amongst the detail in the funding package, provision was made for an increase in funding for CAMHS to 10% of adult mental health funding (£21m), transitions from CAMHS to adult mental health services of £4.2m.

There was also money planned for support for carers, families and other support for those with severe mental illness of £0.67m, crisis service funding of £8m and mental health of older adults of £1.4m.

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