Mental Trauma Service will help address the legacy of the Troubles - Hamilton

Date published: 24 November 2015

Health Minister, Simon Hamilton, today reiterated his commitment to establishing a comprehensive Mental Trauma Service in Northern Ireland.

Pictured L-R are Dr Ciaran Mulholland, Queens University, Dr Michael Duffy, Queens University, Health Minister Simon Hamilton and Professor David Clark, Oxford University. Photo by Simon Graham/Harrison Photography.
The Minister was speaking at the ‘Treating the Trauma of the Troubles’ conference organised by Queens University, Belfast.

The Minister was speaking at the ‘Treating the Trauma of the Troubles’ conference organised by Queen’s University, Belfast.  The conference was organised to discuss how best to treat Troubles-related mental trauma, and is aimed at clinical practitioners, researchers and policymakers.  Its aim is to examine victims’ perspectives on trauma and recovery; the evidence base for effective treatment; sociological and social policy perspectives on troubles-related trauma; and findings from local clinical studies.


The Minister said; “The 2015 report, ‘Towards A Better Future: The Trans-generational Impact of the Troubles on Mental Health’ found that over 213,000 people in Northern Ireland are experiencing significant mental health problems as a result of the Troubles.


“It is clear that there are unmet needs in our mental health services.  That is why, in September, I announced that I have tasked officials to create an innovative service which will meet the needs of those suffering from mental trauma.”


Outlining details of the Mental Trauma Service, the Minister continued, saying; “I want to comprehensively address the legacy of the Troubles and address unmet mental health needs.  This new service will improve individual, family and community experience of mental health trauma care; it will improve the psychological and social outcomes for individuals, their families and communities who have been traumatised as a result of the violence; and improve governance and accountability. 


“The service would allow for a range of interventions, meeting the spectrum of need across our community. It will involve leading edge, evidence-based treatments in line with NICE guidelines, and would be based on the authoritative and internationally-recognised Stepped Care model, which focuses on the recovery of the individual from psychological trauma.”

The Stormont House Agreement made a commitment to implement the Commission for Victims and Survivors’ recommendation for a comprehensive Mental Trauma Service, to operate within the Health Service, but working closely with the Victims and Survivors Service (VSS), and other organisations and groups who work directly with victims and survivors.

Concluding the Minister paid tribute to staff working in mental health services saying; “I wish to commend all the dedicated and talented staff who demonstrate their commitment and skill every day in mental health services across Northern Ireland.  Their efforts continue to address the daily mental trauma felt by many. I hope we can agree that a mental trauma service would be a fitting legacy to those who suffer as a result of the Troubles.”

Notes to editors: 

1       DHSSPS officials, in conjunction with officials in OFMDFM, the HSC Board and the Commission for Victims and Survivors have been developing delivery and funding models for a Mental Trauma Service.

2       213,000 people in Northern Ireland are experiencing significant mental health problems as a result of the Troubles, this is about half of the total of people with mental ill-health.

3        It is estimated that mental health problems in Northern Ireland are 20–25% higher than in the rest of the UK. Therefore one in four adults (about 25%) will experience a diagnosable mental health problem at any given time. This makes mental ill health the largest cause of disability in Northern Ireland.

4       Media enquiries about this press release to DHSSPS Press Office on 9052 0575, or out of hours contact to Duty Press Officer via pager number 07699 715 440 and your call will be returned.

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