The Health Minister, Robin Swan announced a new regional Mental Health Crisis Service on Tuesday.
This came after a review, which was received by the Department in April 2021, considering evidence from literature, best practice, service user perspectives and provided 15 recommendations.
It is hoped the new service will reduce the number of people who attend Emergency Departments in crisis and also reduce the number of people who have to wait longer than two hours for crisis support.
Welcoming the announcement, SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly said: “I’m delighted that a new Mental Health Crisis Service has been announced to help tackle the North’s mental health crisis. I am glad that work has begun on the commitments from the long-overdue Mental Health Action Plan.
“This service will make a real difference to people here suffering from poor mental health. In a moment of crisis, they will now have somewhere dedicated to turn, rather than being shuttled between different services as our overworked and underfunded
health service decides the best way to treat them.”
She continued: “No longer will people in the midst of a mental health crisis be asked to spend hours waiting in a hospital emergency department, they will now have specifically trained staff who can get them the care they need.
“This service will also help reduce the pressure on our existing health service who are often ill equipped, through no fault of their own, to dealing with people in a mental health crisis. In addition, it will help our existing mental health services which are dealing with unprecedented demand during the coronavirus pandemic.”
The Upper Bann MLA claimed that she and colleagues had long long campaigned for a dedicated service for people in crisis.
“All too often we have heard tragic stories about patients who felt they had nowhere to turn and this new service should also help tackle issues around suicide prevention”, she said.
“While the Minister’s plan is admirable, we need to ensure it is properly resourced and seen through to completion. I will be keenly following work on the implementation plan for this new service and look forward to seeing these plans becoming a reality.”