Mental health: Crowds gather at Stormont to call for better services

crowds gather at stormont

About 200 people have gathered at a protest at Stormont to call for better mental health provisions in Northern Ireland.

One of the organisers, Helena Palmer from west Belfast, demanded action from politicians.

“We need to better the mental health system in Northern Ireland,” she said.

“People are fed up suffering day in day out. Everyone is pulling together here today and we want our voices heard.”

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Ms Palmer urged the public to demand better from politicians

‘We won’t give up’

“There is a mental health crisis in Northern Ireland. Everyone here has been affected by suicide or knows someone who has been affected by it,” she said.

“We do want change and we’re ready for it.

Media captionAbout 200 people gathered at a protest at Stormont to call for better mental health provisions in Northern Ireland

“We want to raise awareness and we want our government to know that we are not stepping back and we want change. We won’t give up,” she added.

According to the Health Minister Robin Swann, tackling suicide rates in Northern Ireland remains a priority for the Department of Health (DoH)

Last month the Stormont Executive said that it is to set up a new working group on mental wellbeing and resilience.

The decision was made during a special meeting about the planning of crucial public services where mental health was high on the agenda.

It is the first time that the executive has shown a collective show of determination and unity to tackle mental health issues including suicide.

In 1970, 73 people took their own lives in Northern Ireland, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency (NISRA).

In 2013, there were more than 300 deaths – and that figure has remained largely the same since.

There have recently been a number of calls for improved mental health services in Northern Ireland.

In January, young people gathered at a rally in Belfast city centre to campaign for better mental health education in classrooms.

Later that month dozens of high-profile figures signed a letter calling for Stormont to declare a public health emergency around mental health.

The letter called for spending on mental health to be doubled as a first step in addressing NI’s suicide rate.

Where to get help

If you are in the UK, you can call the Samaritans on 116123 or Lifeline on 0808 808 8000.

For support and more information on emotional distress, visit the Samaritans website.

[“source=bbc”]

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