Durkan calls on Health Minister to prioritise mental health
Mr Durkan said that the cycle of crises in waiting times points to the urgent need for a detailed plan on health service change.
He said: “There are few more vulnerable people in our society than those struggling with mental health challenges. Often outwardly invisible, the spectre of poor mental health can tear away at people and have devastating consequences.
“It is right that we do all we can to encourage people suffering from mental health challenges to seek support and help as soon as possible. This is a burden that no one should have to shoulder alone. But it is an indictment of us all that when someone finds the courage to ask for help that they could be turned away for months on end. The deleterious nature of mental health problems means that those months could be critical to saving a life and saving a family from untold pain.
“This is not political. It’s much too serious for that. This is personal to every family that has lost a loved one and to every individual struggling with anxiety, depression or any other mental health difficulty.
“The Health and Social Care Board say they need an extra 160 staff. That isn’t a wish list request, it’s a critical and demonstrable need. Failure to meet that threshold will fail countless people in need. It simply isn’t an option.
“The Minister must consider all possible options to resolve this matter quickly and comprehensively, including funding voluntary and community groups carrying out excellent work and who already receive referrals to support those in need.”