SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan has urged people to use World Mental Health Day as an opportunity to check in on a loved one who may be struggling alone and an opportunity for people to assess their own mental well-being.
The MLA for Foyle said: “World Mental Health Day acts as a reminder of what we should practise every day. Not only checking in on family and friends you suspect are struggling but also check yourself. Take time for self-care, self-reflection and open up to someone you trust.
“We all have mental health, therefore we all from time to time will experience poor mental health. Thankfully, it is no longer the taboo subject it once was- rather than being spoken in hushed tones, it is spoken about openly and the topic of choice at every student Q&A session I attend.
“That is thanks to local families, lobby groups and every day men and women- those who have had the bravery to share their experiences, share stories about the unimaginable loss of their loved ones, in the pursuit of increased awareness and improved mental health provisions.
“This for me is the beauty of social media in particular- proving that the world is not always the dark place it seems. Individuals reaching out, opening a dialogue and supporting one another has brought us this far.”
Referencing the 30th World Congress of the International Association for suicide prevention convention which took place in Derry last month, Mr Durkan said it came just after the publication of the “long awaited, badly and sadly needed Protect Life 2 Suicide Prevention strategy”.
“Whilst I lament the fact that these measures are needed, I commend the efforts of all those campaigners who fervently fight every day to highlight the plight of poor mental health in this city and throughout the North,” he said. “There is no doubt a great deal more work to be done and the reality remains that to achieve real tangible results we need a functioning government in Stormont.”
He added: “So this World Mental Health Day, people should commend themselves for how far they’ve come on their personal journey and for others to remember that no matter how bleak things may seem in this moment, it always gets better.
“We all have a duty of care to make good mental health a priority. By working together and supporting each other where possible, everyone has the power to be the change that is needed.”