Go Purple for the 6 Pillars of Mental Health Rights – World Mental Health Day 2023

This years’ theme for World Mental Health Day is ‘Mental Health is a Universal Human Right’. We’re calling for action to be taken urgently, to ensure mental health in NI is a human right for all. Read below about our “6 Pillars of Mental Health” campaign and why we want to see action on all these areas.

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Is Mental Health a Universal Human Right in Northern Ireland?

Is Mental Health a Universal Human Right in Northern Ireland?

“Mental health is a universal human right” conveys the fundamental idea that good mental health should be something every individual should have regardless of their own individual situation.

This theme is centred on the belief that mental health is an essential aspect of human dignity, and every person deserves access to mental health services, support, and resources to lead a fulfilling life.

This is regardless of their background, gender, race, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or any other factor, has the right to good mental health and wellbeing.

Mental Health in NI

The prevalence of mental health problems in NI needs addressed urgently.

Northern Ireland has the highest rates of poor mental health of any of the four UK jurisdictions. As well as the human impact it is estimated that the financial cost of poor mental health in Northern Ireland £3.4 Billion annually.

Not only is our mental health here poorer than our compatriots, but it is also far less resourced. Therefore there are significant benefits to be derived from improving our services here.

The situation is getting worse as waiting lists are getting longer. Funding for the excellent Happy Health Minds project has been cut and services such as CAMHS and adult mental health are under huge pressure whilst the Mental Health Strategy is vastly underfunded due to the collapse of the Stormont Executive and lack of local Ministers who could take action on budgets.

Add in a cost of living crisis, a pandemic, an energy crisis and an increase in stress and it’s easy to see why Mental Health in Northern Ireland has reached a critical juncture.

We are in an emergency situation and action is required urgently.

We risk Northern Ireland becoming a place where Mental Health isn’t a basic human right for everyone.

Below, we have outlined the ‘6 Pillars’ of Mental Health Rights. Each one is vital and we need action across them all to help build a healthier Northern Ireland. Together, these pillars provide stability and strength to ensure Mental Health really is a Universal Human Right in Northern Ireland. 

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Pillar 1 - Equality and Access

Equality and Access : This highlights the importance of ensuring that mental health services and support are accessible to all individuals, without discrimination or barriers. It emphasises that mental health care should be available and affordable for everyone. We know that there are many social determinants that impact mental health.


Where we find ourselves in NI. Waiting lists are longer, more people have complex needs, cuts have impacted vital mental health services such as Happy Healthy Minds. There is massive strain on CAMHS and adult services which is still rising. The Mental Health Strategy is underfunded and at serious risk of failing to deliver it’s generational vision. We need to tackle the social determinants of mental ill-health.

Action Is Required Now.


Pillar 2 - Removing Stigma

Removing Stigma: This theme seeks to reduce the ongoing stigma surrounding mental health issues and challenges. By recognising mental health as a universal human right, the aim is to encourage open conversations, empathy, and understanding about mental health conditions.


Where we find ourselves in NI: We need to continue to change and improve how mental health is viewed in Northern Ireland, at all levels. We need to be open and honest within our communication and increase knowledge in all levels of society about the understanding of mental health conditions particular those that are more severe. We also need to continue to recognise the difference between mental health and mental illness.

Action Is Required Now.


Pillar 3 - Advocacy and Awareness

Advocacy and Awareness: The theme promotes advocacy efforts to raise awareness of mental health needs and challenges, both at the individual and societal levels. It calls for increased understanding of mental health issues and the recognition of mental health as a crucial component of overall wellbeing. We want a society that advocates for and supports those who are facing difficulties with their mental health.


Where we find ourselves in NI:  We need more people, particular those with large public online platforms and reach trained correctly on how to talk about and become an advocate for mental health. This will help increase the correct awareness messages and signposting for those in difficulty.  Advocacy services are overstretched and often struggling to meet the demand from people who need help to access the right support.

Action Is Required Now.


Pillar 4 - Policy and Legislation

Policy and Legislation: By considering mental health as a human right, it can help drive the development of policies and legislation that support mental health initiatives, services, and research. We need to ensure that each Department in Government accepts their responsibility to improve mental health across Northern Ireland – the social determinants impacting mental health are cross cutting issues and not simply a health issue.


Where we find ourselves in NI: We need  action from all levels of Government within Northern Ireland to stop what is already a critical situation becoming even more extreme.  Too often Government Departments work in silos, when we need true cross departmental action to address the mental health issues in Northern Ireland. There are numerous determinants of poor mental health, many of which cannot be simply viewed as a health issue. We  call for am urgent Stormont return so we can see vital action and for Departments to take action collectively.

Action Is Required Now.


Pillar 5 - Inclusivity

Inclusivity: Mental health affects people from all walks of life, and this theme recognises the diversity of experiences and challenges individuals may face. It highlights the importance of providing culturally competent and inclusive mental health care.


Where we find ourselves in NI: Mental Health affects people from all walks of life in different ways. In the last 36 months we have had an energy crisis, a cost of living crisis, NHS Crisis, conflict, strikes and many others serious stresses on our population. Every single person has been affected by these differently and therefore we need services that are equipped, trained and resourced to cope, regardless of postcode or a person’s wealth.

Action Is Required Now.


Pillar 6 - Empowerment

Empowerment: Viewing mental health as a human right empowers individuals to seek help and support without feeling ashamed or stigmatised. It encourages individuals to prioritise their mental wellbeing and seek assistance when needed.


Where we find ourselves in NI: Prioritising Mental Health is essential to your overall wellbeing. No matter where you are with your mental health you should always feel supported, have the tools to get better and have the necessary assistance when needed. Too often we hear people say they can’t access support for themselves or their loved ones. We need investment in both services and signposting to ensure people are empowered to access the support they need, when they need it.

Action Is Required Now.


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