Health Minister Robin Swann has announced that his Department has commenced the process to appoint a new Mental Health Champion.
Minister Swann said: “The Covid-19 pandemic has taken a massive physical toll on us all. We must not however lose sight of the potentially catastrophic impact it will have on emotional wellbeing and mental health. If we do not take action now to address this, it will impact on our community both in the short and the medium term.
“Mental well-being and mental health services have continually been a top priority for me as Minister. If anything this present pandemic has made this ever more important as Coronavirus has changed lives around the globe to an extent that we could never have imagined. Countries are in lockdown, thousands of lives have been lost and healthcare systems are coming under severe pressure – the likes of which have rarely been seen.
“I am particularly heartened by the support that I have received from my Executive colleagues who share my determination to establish a Mental Health champion for NI. The position of a Champion must be one that is empowered by the Executive and demonstrates commitment on the issue of mental health.
The appointment of the new Mental health Champion will add to a wide range of initiatives already in place including support for those within the community and also for staff in the health and social care sector.
The role would be to champion and enhance mental health in all aspects of public life. In particular it would be expected that a champion would be:
- A public advocate for mental health and government advocate to support Departments and officials;
- A consensus builder;
- An adviser to senior stakeholders;
- A network hub for the development of positive mental health; and
- A challenger of decisions and policies.
Notes to editors:
- The appointment of a Mental Health Champion would not be a formal public appointment, however, according to the Commissioner for Public Appointments, all appointments made by Ministers have benefit of following the principles found in the Public Appointments Code of Practice; merit, diversity, equality, openness, transparency, independence, integrity, proportionality and respect.
- It is estimated that a funded champion without statutory functions would cost between £300k and £500k per year, depending on the size of the supporting staff and in which host organisation the champion is placed.
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