Sinn Féin spokesperson for Mental Health Órlaithí Flynn MLA has called for mental health to be a core component of primary health care and not just an additional service.
Speaking after receiving a response from the Health and Social Care Board on the provision of mental health services within the community, the West Belfast MLA said:
“Mental Health services must be more than an additional or enhanced service for primary care.
Most people go to their GP first when they are concerned about their mental health and we need to ensure GPs are fully resourced to provide these services on an ongoing basis.
“The fact the Health and Social Care Board has confirmed that it doesn’t record waiting lists for GP counselling services shows how as an ‘enhanced’ service it is not given the focused attention afforded to core services.
“This is unacceptable.
“If the level of need is not recorded adequately then funding levels for services cannot be properly determined.
“I am calling on the HSCB and the Minister of Health to commission a Needs Assessment for all Mental Health Services as a matter of urgency.
“This is the necessary first step in recognising the real extent of GP mental health waiting lists.”