Lockdown may well have had far-reaching and unintended consequences on people’s mental health, which is why Council is being urged to make a difference now.
Alliance Councillor Eóin Tennyson has said suicide awareness and prevention training must be an available resource for citizens, staff and elected representatives alike.
He has called on Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Borough Council to take action and become a civic leader in the area.
The Lagan River representative will bring a motion before Monday’s full Council meeting which seeks to appoint mental health champions, make suicide prevention and awareness training available to all staff and elected members, and to coordinate a campaign to promote positive mental health and wellbeing in the borough.
“Poor mental health is at crisis levels in Northern Ireland,” he said.
“Since 1998, we’ve seen the suicide rate double due to growing issues around addiction, intergenerational trauma and the impacts of austerity on local services,” said Councillor Tennyson.
“Sadly what was already a troubling situation will have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. The associated lockdown may well have had far-reaching and unintended consequences on people’s mental health.
“That’s why it is essential we move forward and provide the right tools and resources to tackle the stigma surrounding mental health and to support those experiencing personal struggles.
“As civic leaders, we have a responsibility to help and support our citizens, which is why it is so important we take measures to implement different practices within our own employment setting From providing mental health first aid training programmes for staff, to appointing mental health champions in each department, there is so much we can do to raise the profile of this issue and make sure everyone has a safe space to seek help.
“I hope all councillors will get behind this plan, helping those in need currently and securing the future of those who don’t yet realise the help they will need.”