A sex abuse survivor has launched High Court proceedings against the Department of Health over allegations mental health services are failing patients, it can be revealed.
The Department of Health has been threatened with a judicial review amid concerns of a failure to adequately inspect and regulate mental health services in the community.
A leading Belfast law firm has issued the Department of Health with a pre action letter of claim warning of the intention to apply for a judicial review unless the matter is "satisfactorily resolved immediately".
KRW Law is acting on behalf of a 51-year-old sex abuse victim who has serious mental health issues as a result of the heinous attacks.
The claimant has been diagnosed with a serious form of PTSD, characterised by the likes of insomnia and bed-wetting.
He has also attempted suicide on more than 40 occasions and he has spent protracted periods of time as an inpatient at an acute psychiatric ward.
Despite this, KRW Law said he has "found himself facing a lone battle when he raised concerns about both the level and quality of mental health care he was receiving".
The case against the Department of Health states that Northern Ireland is the only part of the UK without a regime of inspection for the provision of NHS treatment of mental health illness in the community.
It raises the possibility that the failure to regulate community mental health services is a breach of the claimant's human rights.
Solicitor Roise Fitzpatrick, from KRW Law, said: "Our client has suffered for years and has unfortunately found himself facing a lone battle when he raised concerns about both the level and quality of mental health care he was receiving.
"Unlike England, Scotland and Wales there is no equivalent oversight and inspection facilities in this jurisdiction as the relevant provisions appear to exclude inspection of NHS mental health services.
"These concerns are magnified when only last week we saw the mass resignation of the RQIA Board members.
"Given that a higher proportion of the population here suffer from mental health issues caused by their experiences as a result of the Troubles or historical institutional and clerical abuse there is all the more reason that this serious deficit needs to be addressed."
The claimant, who cannot be identified for legal reasons, said he has experienced a range of problems relating to the treatment he has received over the past three years.
Most recently, he said he was offered no help when he contacted a crisis line to say he was struggling following the sudden death of a close friend.
"I have raised concerns about the service on countless occasions, but I never get anywhere," he said.
"When they carry out an investigation, they are investigating themselves and there needs to be a body here that carries out proper oversight of mental health services."
The Department of Health has been contacted for a response.