Health Minister Michelle O’Neill outlines plans to champion mental health

Date published: 22 June 2016

Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill, today opened the final conference of the Together for You project, and provided an outline of the challenges facing mental health services.

Together for You is an innovative partnership project, funded by the Big Lottery Fund, aimed at delivering mental health and wellbeing services to a range of people across the North.  The delivery of services under the project officially closed at the end of May 2016. 

Congratulating the project on its success, Minister O’Neill said: “You have greatly exceeded your targets, and have provided services to over 52,000 direct beneficiaries, and to over 110,000 supporters, carers and family members.  This is a great achievement, and highlights the importance of the voluntary and community sector in providing mental health services.  It is also proof that partnership can work.”

The Minister told the conference that whilst mental health services have come a long way in the last decade, there is still much work to be done to improve mental health services generally. She explained that her priorities will be to continue to promote partnership working, develop a sophisticated understanding of the gaps in provision, and work to secure the necessary resources to fill these gaps.

The Minister said: “There is no shortage of challenges.  We face huge financial and practical issues. But we are all fortunate to have talented and dedicated people in the health service and the voluntary sector, and we have a good understanding of what needs to be done to fill the gaps in provision. 

“We have a growing evidence base, not least from projects such as Together for You, to help us make the case for reform, to correct the historic underinvestment in mental health services.

“Mental health is an issue which can affect any one of us.  Thankfully, it is an issue whose time has come, and I am committed to championing this cause.”

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Department is completing an evaluation of the Bamford Action Plan 2012-15 (extended to 31 March 2016). It will assess how Executive Departments performed against the Action Plan, whether life is better for people with mental health problems as a result of the actions, and importantly, outline the needs and gaps in service provision to set the scene for this Assembly term. It is intended that a draft will go to the Executive for consideration in the autumn.
  2. Initial findings from the Bamford evaluation include the need to:
    • further embed and promote psychological therapies and the concept of recovery
    • provide more practical support to carers
    • improve access to services in times of mental health crisis
    • improve the experience of patients admitted to acute mental health facilities
    • increase involvement of the voluntary and community sector
  3. The Minister and Department are also considering possible needs in relation to perinatal mental health, psychological therapies, mental trauma and eating disorders provision, subject to the availability of finance.
  4. Media enquiries about this press release to DoH Press Office on 028 9052 0575, or out of office hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715440 and your call will be returned. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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