Speaking after receiving written confirmation from the Department of Health that engagement with smaller community groups has been limited in scale, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Mental Health Órlaithí Flynn said:
“The Department of Health must engage with community groups as a key sector to develop in partnership with them the new mental health strategy.
“The lived experience of groups which are embedded within the communities they serve are invaluable to service delivery and development.
“The Minister must set out clearly now how his department intends to engage with all groups who are involved in mental health and suicide prevention work.
“Due to the impact of the COVID-19 restrictions the department must make a determined effort to work in partnership with people with experience and who are rooted in communities on the co-design and development of the mental health strategy.
“Community mental health groups must not be side-lined.
“I call on the Minister to clearly set out how he will ensure sustained and active engagement with all sections of the Community and Voluntary sector in co-designing and co-producing strategies.”