Green Party backs call for dedicated mental health centre for Northern Ireland

The Green Party is supporting calls for the establishment of an International Mental Centre in Northern Ireland.

“Northern Ireland has the world’s highest rate of post-traumatic stress disorder directly linked to the conflict and if we are serious about tackling the legacy of the past, this is an area which cannot be ignored,” North Down Green MLA Steven Agnew said.

“Because of a lack of healing and formalized support, historical trauma remains very real for many people directly and indirectly affected by Northern Ireland’s conflict and we need a more formal response to supporting people impacted by the Troubles.

“Investment is needed in mental health services as it has been the ‘Cinderella’ sector of the health service.

“There are not only important social and humanitarian aspects to the promotion of mental wellbeing but also strong economic arguments.

“The mental health and wellbeing of the population is an essential prerequisite for sustainable economic growth.

“Research shows that investment in the ‘mental capital’ of the economy, in terms of providing adequate resources, effective support mechanisms and timely interventions for people with mental health problems, is essential for not only the improved wellbeing of society, but also for sustained economic growth.

“The Northern Ireland Association of Mental Health (Niamh) has identified mental ill-health costs our local economy a staggering £4bn per year.

“Mental wellbeing impinges on a wide-range of physical health conditions, as well as having implications for many other recognised societal problems, such as drug and alcohol misuse, teenage suicide, and domestic violence.

“Many costs associated with mental illness are indirect and not readily recognised, including, loss of productivity and costs related to morbidity, premature death, incarceration and the costs to caregivers.

“It is time for this Executive to acknowledge the problem and commit to an international mental health centre located in Northern Ireland to ensure that mental health is being taken seriously.”

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