SDLP Health Spokesperson Mark H Durkan MLA has said that more resources must be allocated to mental health in the budgetary process. Mr Durkan's comments come after a meeting with the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Health this week.
Mr Durkan said: “For too long, Mental Health has been the Cinderella service within the Health Department. Last year I established that only 5.5% of the overall Health budget was allocated to the area of mental health despite around 25%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.
While the Tory/DUP ‘deal’ promised an additional £50 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. While I welcome that new talks are to finally get underway next week, these need to be fruitful. We need to local Ministers making decisions here, patients cannot wait."