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Mental trauma unit to be set up to tackle legacy of the Troubles

Published 11/09/2015

Health Minister Simon Hamilton wants Northern Ireland to become a world leader in treating people with psychological trauma
Health Minister Simon Hamilton wants Northern Ireland to become a world leader in treating people with psychological trauma

One of the last acts of a Democratic Unionist health minister was to approve the establishment of a mental trauma unit to help tackle the conflict legacy.

Half the psychological health problems in Northern Ireland are associated with the Troubles. A study this year found that over 213,000 people are experiencing significant problems, victims' campaigners said.

Stormont health minister Simon Hamilton said: "I want Northern Ireland to become a world leader in treating people with psychological trauma.

"On this basis, I have tasked officials to create an innovative service which will meet the needs of those suffering from mental trauma."

Mr Hamilton said the service will involve leading edge, evidence-based treatments as well as services provided directly in the community.

In Northern Ireland there are higher rates of self-harm, common and more serious mental health problems. It is estimated that the proportion with mental health problems is 20-25% higher than in the rest of the UK.

A report by the Victim's Commission in March said traumatic experiences and exposure to violence can lead to adverse mental health and other consequences not only for the person themselves, but also for subsequent generations.

Victims Commissioner Judith Thompson said: "Creating an innovative regional trauma service in Northern Ireland would represent a fitting legacy to the many individuals and families who continue to endure often chronic psychological and emotional problems which are a direct consequence of their Troubles-related experiences.

"This is an essential recognition of the profound psychological impact of the legacy of the Troubles on victims and survivors and on the mental health of the wider population in Northern Ireland."

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