NI’s Staggering Mental Health Costs Of £3.5bn Every Year Revealed

Northern Ireland mental health

MENTAL health costs Northern Ireland’s economy £3.5bn each year, according to Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill.

The Minister was speaking as the Assembly backed a motion to create a Mental Health Champion to protect and promote the needs of those with poor mental health and wellbeing.

Ms O’Neill said that 45% of those suffering mental health issues are on benefits.

“Around 45% of people who claim illness-related out-of-work benefits do so because of mental health,” she said. “This is the biggest single group of claimants.”

However, the Minister for Health has rejected the calls for a mental health champion appointed by the Executive, suggesting that they wouldn’t be independent.

“A possible alternative to a champion appointed by the Minister might be that the relevant mental health voluntary and community organisations come together to appoint jointly a champion who would then be truly independent and authoritative,” said Ms O’Neill.

The proposal to create a mental health champion was brought by Ulster Unionist MLA, Robert Butler.

The Assembly backed the motion, including a Sinn Féin amendment from Upper Bann MLA, Catherine Seely, which included a reference to the “decades of conflict” and called on the Health Minister to explore the “role and remit” of a mental health champion rather than appoint one.

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Jonathan Traynor
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