Mental health spend lag blasted by MLA

Mark H Durkan.
Mark H Durkan.

SDLP health spokesman Mark. H. Durkan has said a lag in mental health spending needs across the North must be addressed urgently.

Mr. Durkan has estimated 5.5 per cent of the North’s health budget was being spent on mental health services despite 25 per cent of all health cases being mental health related.

The Foyle MLA said: “For too long, Mental Health has been the Cinderella service within the Department of Health. Last year I established that only 5.5 per cent of the overall health budget was allocated to the area of mental health despite around 25 per cent of cases being mental health related.

“I have constantly raised the need for more resources for mental health to ensure better accessibility to existing services, the creation of new services and to support groups working so hard to provide support and guidance to people who are suffering.”

Mr. Durkan noted that London has yet to make good on additional funding promised under its Confidence and Supply Agreement with the DUP and that the North, meanwhile, is falling behind other parts of the UK.

“While the Tory/DUP ‘deal’ promised an additional £350 million for mental health over the next five years, we have yet to see the colour of their money.Across the water, money is being ploughed into building mental resilience in our young people – to protect them from and enable them to deal with, problems as they get older. This is the type of initiative we need to see here.

“I recently raised this matter with senior health department officials but am fearful that, given the lack of political direction from Stormont, any new health budget is unlikely to change how things are done.”