Sinn Féín MLA Órlaithí Flynn has welcomed plans announced by the Health Minister to put in place a Mental Health Champion but cautioned that the Minister himself must champion mental health services if real change is to materialise.
The party’s spokesperson for mental health and well-being said:
“The COVID-19 lockdown has led to added pressures and difficulties for those who suffering with a mental health condition and left many unable to access necessary services.
“The anxiety and stress generated by the crisis needs addressed.
“I raised my concerns with the Minister that mental health was being left behind during this public health crisis despite it being clear that now more than every we need to ensure that mental health is considered alongside physical health.
“The additional help and support that a Mental Health Champion could bring is to be welcomed as long as it compliments and adds to frontline services in a meaningful way.
“The Minister also needs to provide further detail in terms of the remit and function of the Champion.
“As chair of the All-Party Group on Suicide Prevention I have constantly raised the need to improve mental health services, this includes additional funding and a move towards parity of esteem for mental health services.
“Ultimately real improvements to services requires the Minister to be a Mental Health Champion.”