ACTION Mental Health has welcomed the Secretary of State’s reported budgetary commitment of £30million towards Northern Ireland’s beleaguered mental health and wellbeing services.
The news follows a visit to Westminster last month by Together for You, a group of Northern Ireland’s leading mental health charities – including Action Mental Health. The delegation also included The Mental Health Foundation, Royal College of Psychiatrists and Ulster University.
They were highlighting the crisis in mental health in Northern Ireland which has resulted in more people dying by suicide since the Belfast Agreement than were killed during the Troubles.
Action Mental Health Chief Executive David Babington issued a cautious welcome for the funding boost but said ambiguity surrounded the level of funding to be allocated to mental health. He noted that the original figure was to be £50m, but that yesterday’s reported figure for mental health fell short of that by £20m.
He said the uncertainty highlighted the need for a clear strategic plan for mental health and moreover for a mental health champion to steer services and investment to the areas most in need.
“In principal it is great that mental health pressures are being recognised, but we need clarity. Last month we went to Westminster to meet MPs to discuss among other things the £50m promised to Northern Ireland’s mental health services.
“We need to urgently meet with the Secretary of State in the absence of a functioning local executive, to discuss how this funding is allocated and other strategic priorities in order to continue this momentum.
“Obviously £50m isn’t going to cure everything but it is a start in the right direction and what we need is a clear and transparent ten year strategic plan and also a mental health champion to oversee this.”