Mental health care in NI can’t be left behind, warns charity
One of Northern Ireland’s leading mental health charities has called on the Stormont Assembly to ensure mental health patients here aren’t left behind patients elsewhere in the UK following the launch of a major campaign calling for more funding in England.
AWARE (formerly Aware Defeat Depression) welcomed the campaign, launched today (Monday) and backed by 200 celebrities including Emma Thompson and Graham Norton, calling for increased funding for mental health services in England.
But AWARE’s Chief Executive Siobhan Doherty says that mental health services in Northern Ireland need the same levels of increased funding and support or we risk entering into a major mental health crisis here.
“This is a very significant campaign being launched in England today and one that we fully endorse – increased funding for mental health services should be a priority not only in England but across the UK,” she said.
“Mental health services in Northern Ireland are already the Cinderella service and we would call on our local politicians to look closely at this campaign in England and ensure that mental health patients here are receiving the same levels of care and support as they are elsewhere in the UK.
“The amount of people suffering from depression here, and across the world, is on the rise and investment is needed if that rise is to be addressed. According to the World Health Organisation depression is the leading cause of disability worldwide and the prevalence of depression in Northern Ireland is already higher than elsewhere in the UK.
The campaign in England was launched by former mental health minister Norman Lamb, Conservative MP Andrew Mitchell and former Labour spin doctor Alastair Campbell.
It is also backed by celebrities including Ruby Wax, Frank Skinner and footballer Ian Wright.
Mr Lamb said people with mental ill health "don't get the same right to access treatment on a timely basis that everyone else gets". He called it a "historic injustice."
His son was diagnosed with obsessive compulsive disorder at the age of 15 and Mr Campbell has spoken about his battle with depression.