Northern Ireland news

Mental Health Crisis Service announced for Northern Ireland

Health Minister Robin Swann announced a new regional Mental Health Crisis Service for Northern Ireland. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire
Marie Louise McConville

A new regional Mental Health Crisis Service has been announced for Northern Ireland.

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.

The new service has been developed in line with a commitment in the Mental Health Action Plan (MHAP) and last year, the Department of Health commissioned a review of crisis services.

The review report provided 15 recommendations.

The service has been developed together with the authors of the review, and reflects the recommendations.

The policy outlines what the crisis service will look like and provides 10 actions to make this a reality.

The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and Public Health Agency (PHA) will lead on the implementation of the new service, with health trusts responsible for the implementation and delivery of regionally consistent mental health crisis services.

An implementation plan is expected to be completed November 2021.

Health Minister Robin Swann said: it is "accepted that crisis services in Northern Ireland are in need of reorganisation and reform.

"The new regional crisis service in Northern Ireland seeks to provide a regional approach to mental health crisis, where people get care and treatment when they need it, where they need it," he said.

"It is a policy that focuses on the needs of the person rather than the system, and is a new direction for crisis services".

Mr Swann said the "first phases of implementation of the new service can start immediately".

Sinn Féin assembly member Órlaithí Flynn welcomed the new service, adding that it is "vital" that communities and community groups are "partners at all stages of developing crisis services"

"I welcome the commitment from the Minister that the first phases of implementation of the new service can start immediately, as this will help ease the demand on services under pressure as a result of Covid-19, " she said.

SDLP Health spokeswoman Cara Hunter said the 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 said.

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