MLAs need to get to work on Mental Health Strategy, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health Spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has warned that no MLA concerned about the mental well-being of Northern Ireland’s population can justify keeping the Executive down a second longer.

Health Paula Bradshaw Mental Health

The South Belfast MLA was speaking after a Northern Ireland Audit Office report raised the alarm that the 2021-31 Mental Health Strategy cannot be fully implemented, even well into the time period during which it was meant to apply.


“The Northern Ireland Audit Office puts the cost of our comparatively poorer mental health in Northern Ireland at £3.4 billion per year, but the real cost is human,” said Ms Bradshaw.


“The combination of the legacy of the Troubles, comparatively lower funding uplifts during the Covid pandemic, and constant political instability has led to severe mental health effects, often particular to Northern Ireland, with one in every eight young people here experiencing depression.


“We saw a positive step forward in the appointment of a Mental Health Champion and have raised awareness of the need for improved services and better understanding across the wider population. Politics was beginning to work on this hugely important issue. The Mental Health Strategy which followed is an extremely impressive piece of work and, like most of the population, we now want to get on with it – delivering the necessary budgets, considering the necessary legislation, and scrutinising the necessary next steps.


“As the Audit Office Report shows, however, implementation is now being stalled by budgetary uncertainty, and thus ultimately by the ongoing Executive shutdown.


“Those continuing to insist there is plenty of time to get devolution back up and running are showing a callous disregard for the huge numbers of people in our population who are struggling, but who would benefit from the support on offer from a fully funded and implemented Mental Health Strategy.


“Following on from the recent election, it is time for those blocking progress to re-assess their priorities, stop the games, and get on with the job on behalf of our people.”