Northern Ireland

Mental health charity warns loss of European funding will have 'catastrophic' effect on vulnerable

Action Mental Health Chief Executive David Babington. Picture: Declan Roughan
Action Mental Health Chief Executive David Babington. Picture: Declan Roughan

A loss of European funding for a charity supporting 1,500 people with severe mental health issues would have a “catastrophic” effect on their well-being, a charity has said.

Action Mental Health’s New Horizons programme helps people transition back into their community by providing personal development, training and work placement opportunities.

The service is partially funded by the European Social Fund (ESF) which will run out in March next year because of Brexit.

AMH Chief Executive David Babington said the programme addresses around £70m of mental health issues each year, and said overwhelmed health trusts in Northern Ireland would be unable to meet the demand if the service was lost.

“Services from organisations like AMH who support people with serious mental health issues, learning disabilities and a range of other disabilities are at risk of reduction in service and/or closure, and this will have a catastrophic impact the wellbeing of the most vulnerable, who are already feeling the effects of the cost-of-living crisis,” he said

Mental Health Champion Professor Siobhan O’Neill said a failure to replace the ESF funding would have dire consequences.

“The removal of this funding early next year, at a time when services are also coping with the challenges of the cost of living crisis, is unconscionable,” she said.

“It will lead to a cliff edge, with catastrophic implications for people who live with mental illness across Northern Ireland. It is vital that our political representatives work to secure full replacement of the ESF for Northern Ireland’s most vulnerable individuals.”

Dr Richard Wilson, who chairs Psychiatrists Northern Ireland. said:

"We're concerned that the loss of ESF funding will have a significant impact on thousands of vulnerable people with mental health issues.

“Northern Ireland’s mental health services are already under funded by 27 per cent and this is a further cut just when we need significant investment with the aftermath of Covid and dealing with the cost-of-living crisis. "