Belfast Telegraph

Plea for world-leading mental unit

Ulster Unionist Party leader Mike Nesbitt has proposed a mental health centre be built in Northern Ireland rather than the Maze peace centre.

Speaking at his party's annual conference, the Strangford MLA said such a facility would address the hidden legacy of the Troubles.

Mr Nesbitt said Northern Ireland was a "world leader" in poor mental health and wellbeing.

"So, having created the mental health problem, let us fix it," he said. "Let us create an International Mental Health Centre: a facility that will be a global centre of excellence to help those who suffer trauma, whatever the cause.

"I am talking about the best in the world."

Mr Nesbitt told delegates a mental health centre would cure a post traumatic stress disorder epidemic in Northern Ireland and could become the "go-to place" for trauma victims worldwide.

"Making Northern Ireland the world leader for trauma care would be a fitting legacy project for our citizens and the world's," he said.

"And let me be clear, when it comes to our past, this centre is for everyone, even those for whom we have no sympathy."

Mr Nesbitt said the centre would be for everyone, including those whose poor mental health is "a consequence of making bad choices".

The UUP leader suggested a publicly owned and currently empty building at Ormiston - near Stormont - for the project.

The development would cost a fraction of the 18 million euro (£15m) set aside for the Maze Peace Centre, he added.

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