April 28, 2020
Appointment of Mental Health Champion positive step – Flynn

Sinn Féin MLA Órlaithí Flynn has welcomed the appointment of a Mental Health Champion but cautioned that the minister must champion real change to services himself starting with the Mental Health Action Plan.

The Sinn Féin spokesperson for mental health said:

“I welcome the decision made by the Health Minister and the Executive to appoint a Mental Health Champion for the North. It is an encouraging development, but it is only the start.

“Mental health was already one of the most significant causes of ill health before the current public health pandemic.

“I was heartened that at last week’s meeting of the health committee the Chief Medical Officer and the minister agreed with me that we need to plan now, for the mental health legacy of COVID-19.

“As chair of the Assembly’s All-Party Group on Suicide Prevention I know the challenges ahead and look forward to working with the minister and the Mental Health Champion to improve services.

“It is vital individuals and communities feel a step change. This will only be achieved by supporting and enhancing services. 

“Improvements to current mental health services, such as GP counselling or the provision of perinatal community and inpatient services will only be achieved if the minister himself is a champion for mental health.

“Long waiting lists, access to counselling and to drug and alcohol services, specialist services such as eating disorder teams and perinatal services all need to be addressed.

“While some progress has been made it will continue to need a Minister of Health to prioritise and champion.

“In that context I look forward to working with the new Mental Health Champion and the Minister in tackling all of these issues.”

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