Prominent NI politician Robin Swann has received a prestigious Honorary Fellowship, from the Royal College of Psychiatrists.
The Fellowships are awarded annually to individuals who have made outstanding contributions to psychiatry.
Robin Swann was awarded for championing mental healthcare and working closely with psychiatrists in Northern Ireland to address the enormous treatment gap that still exists.
The former Stormont health minister was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly in 2021 and was Northern Ireland’s Minister of Health from 2020-2022.
During his time in post, he presided over the response to the Covid-19 pandemic. He was jointly awarded Politician of the Year in 2022 by Civility in Politics.
Speaking after the awards ceremony, Robin Swann said:
“I was deeply humbled to have been told in recent weeks by the Royal College of Psychiatrists that they were granting me this award. I never entered into elected office to receive acclaim or awards such as this, but I must say I was honoured to have been recognised by such an eminent body.
“During my remarks at the ceremony I made it clear that whilst the College had granted me the award, I wanted it to be viewed as an award for the many health workers working across the local system and who more than anyone else, have been responsible for securing some of the improvements over recent years.
“Despite the constant focus that was required on responding to the pandemic, I was always conscious that walking into the Department on my first day I had set mental well-being and improving mental health services as a top priority for me as Minister. Yet if anything, rather than pushing that priority to the side, the pandemic and all the associated disruption made it ever more important.
“During my time as Minister, working with countless mental health workers, stakeholders, patients, carers, and professional bodies, I am genuinely proud of what we were able to achieve. One achievement that I am especially proud of was the fact that we were able to produce and publish the mental health strategy, which ambitiously set the future strategic direction of mental health services in Northern Ireland for the following decade.
“The input from the Royal College of Psychiatrists to the Mental Health Strategy was vital and I want to thank the Northern Ireland officers, Chair Dr Richard Wilson, Vice-Chair Dr Stephen Moore, Policy Development Dr Michael Doherty, for the positive and critical friend approach, the Colleges recognition for positive engagement and support in policy development was also key to the development of the Enhancing Clinical Care Framework, where the Colleges Northern Ireland Policy Officer Thomas McKeever was a key contributor.
“I was really grateful, if somewhat taken-aback, to have been recognised by the Royal College of Psychiatrists in this manner. I just hope that very quickly some political leadership can be shown that once again delivers the investment and commitment to our full range of mental health services.”
Richard Wilson, chair of RCPsych NI, said:
“We’re delighted Robin has been given this prestigious prize. He is a true Honorary Fellow to us. Not only for his contribution to mental health services but for his leadership and management during the pandemic.
“Working in partnership with Robin during the Covid-19 crisis – we shared many ups and many downs – and all the stuff in between. This is our way of saying thank you and well done.”
Dr Lade Smith CBE, president of RCPsych said:
"I would like to take this opportunity to thank Robin Swann for his amazing achievements in promoting mental healthcare.
“His joint working with RCPsych NI has been impactful in raising the importance of mental illness across Northern Ireland.”