Health Minister, Simon Hamilton, has praised the voluntary sector for its contribution to improving services and support for people with mental health problems.
The Minister was attending a Mental Health and Wellbeing Shared Learning event, organised by ‘Together for You’. Led by Action Mental Health, ‘Together For You’ is a partnership project with nine voluntary sector organisations working together to provide a range of coordinated mental health and wellbeing interventions across Northern Ireland.
Speaking during Men’s Health Week, the Minister said: "I have long recognised the value of our local voluntary sector. Staff and volunteers have a personal insight into the needs of those they are helping. With this unique perspective they can often devise new, innovative and more person-centred services from those traditionally provided by the statutory sector.
"The ‘Together for You’ services complement those delivered by the five Trusts. Indeed, it is as a result of the voluntary and statutory sectors working together that we have been able to significantly improve the lives of those living with mental health problems and progress toward the modern and diverse mental health services envisaged by Bamford."
The focus of ‘Together for You’ services is mental health promotion and early intervention; leading to longer term benefits, such as reducing the stigma around mental health and, encouraging more help-seeking behaviours.
The Minister continued: "Most mental illnesses can be treated successfully allowing people to live fulfilling lives. This is an important message that must be conveyed, to help de-stigmatise mental illness. I would urge anyone who is finding it difficult to cope with life to talk to someone.
"This is particularly relevant to men, who have been traditionally reluctant to discuss their mental health needs or seek help. During Men’s Health Week the work of the ‘Together for You Project’ has never been more important in helping to change the culture and redefine how men look after their mental health"
Concluding, the Minister said: "Northern Ireland has a strong voluntary sector of which we should all be proud. However, good mental health is a Government-wide responsibility and it is essential that we continue to work together, across the voluntary, community and statutory sectors, to make life better for those with mental health problems."
Notes to editors:
- The event was organised by ‘Together for You’, a project led by Action Mental Health in partnership with Aware Defeat Depression, Cruse Bereavement Care, Cause, MindWise, NexusNI, Praxis Care, Relate NI and The Rainbow Project.
- ‘Together for You’ is funded by the Big Lottery Fund and is aimed at delivering mental health and wellbeing services to a range of people across Northern Ireland. Their services include befriending, bereavement support, counselling, support for carers, mental health awareness programmes, peer group support for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual & Transgender and volunteering. The project hopes to reach 35,137 beneficiaries by 2016, together with 51,079 indirect beneficiaries (supporters, carers and families).
- The Bamford Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability services reported between 2005 and 2007 and set the strategic direction for the development of mental health services over 10-15 year period. Bamford was reinforced by Transforming Your Care in 2011.
- The key messages of the Bamford Review are the strengthening of community-based services, focus on early intervention, improving access to talking therapies, providing better specialist services resettling people from hospital settings into the community and ensuring we have an adequately trained workforce.
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