21/06/2024

Alliance Calls For Increase In Mental Health Funding

Alliance Economy spokesperson, David Honeyford MLA, has urged for greater investment in services to combat the high levels of poor mental health in Northern Ireland.

The Lagan Valley MLA made this call as the Assembly’s Public Accounts Committee released its report on Mental Health Services in Northern Ireland on June 20th.

Mr Honeyford, who is a member of the committee, has said: "When we looked into the progress made with the Department of Health's Mental Health Strategy since its launch in 2021, we were shocked to find the level of underfunding. In those first three years, the Department of Health allocated just £10m to implementing the strategy. That’s £24m less than the estimated amount required.
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"We have the lowest level of spending on mental health compared to the rest of the UK and Ireland. A mere 5.7% of the health budget is spent on mental health, compared to 14.1% in England. If we want to prioritise mental health, it’s not enough to draw up strategies. We need to provide the funds to enable those plans to make a real change to people who need help.

"I’m also concerned that the Department has become reliant on underfunded voluntary and community organisations, such as the Samaritans, Barnardo’s and, in my own constituency, Emerge Counselling Services. These organisations often rely on precarious short-term government support. Their funding needs to be put on a firm footing if they are to continue with their invaluable work.

"Not spending money on mental health services is a false economy. Many of these conditions are preventable, and by funding mental health services correctly we can also make positive changes that will benefit all of society."




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