Since 1963, Action Mental Health has provided life-changing services, helping people to recover from the effects of mental ill-health and in many cases, return to work.
Today, they launched research findings demonstrating social and economic savings made through client engagement with their New Horizons programme:
Investment in such programmes could help address as much as £50 million of the cost of mental health problems in Northern Ireland annually:
The magnitude of savings to the Health Service and the Exchequer, presents a very strong case for changing the way services are funded; requiring recurrent, mainstream Government investment in these cost-saving programmes which both improve mental health while reducing costs. This is particularly relevant in light of the Review of Health & Social Care in NI report Transforming Your Care, with the move towards providing services in the community and a greater level of involvement of the third sector.
Action Mental Health believes that, in these times of economic downturn, it is even more important to focus what resources are available on quality programmes that can produce benefits in the long-term to health, well-being and the economy as a whole.
Ahead of the event, CEO David Babington said,
“Prevalence of mental illness in Northern Ireland is higher than in the rest of the UK and in light of the current economic environment, it is predicted that demand in services will only continue to increase. Our New Horizons programme ticks many of the boxes “Transforming Your Care” has set out for the future shape of services, for example; reducing the need for health and social services, reducing hospital re-admissions, improving mental health, increasing employment rates and reducing welfare benefits. Our programme also provides a hidden but valuable gain in the form of respite for carers. We now have hard evidence that investment in AMH is a better use of the limited public funds we have to help people recover from mental ill health”.
The launch took place in the Stormont Hotel. The Key Note speaker was Professor Hugh McKenna from the University of Ulster and authors of the research report, Dr Karen Casson and Dr Derek McLaughlin, also from the University of Ulster, presented their findings. The event was opened by Health Minister Edwin Poots. Welcoming the research, the Minister said,
“It is hugely important that we do everything we can to create a culture in which it is right to talk about our mental health problems and seek help. We need to look at ways to support those suffering from an episode of mental ill health. That is why initiatives like Action Mental Health’s ‘New Horizons’ are so important. By providing training and recognised qualifications, New Horizons gives people who suffer from mental ill health a sense of purpose and greater self esteem – they are valued members of workforce, and indeed society, and should feel as such.”