Stormont set for rally over Northern Ireland mental health provision
More than 2,000 people have shown interest in joining a grassroots protest at Stormont over mental health provision in Northern Ireland.
Organisers Chloe Murphy and Jonny Collins (both from Belfast and aged 22) have called for a peaceful protest on February 1 to demand action from political leaders.
On Tuesday, 2,400 people on the 'Storm Stormont' Facebook said they were interested in taking part and almost 1,000 said they would be there.
Ms Murphy said record levels of suicide and a lack of funding for mental health services had motivated them to stage an event for the first time.
"My friend Jonny and I thought about having an event at Stormont because that's where the problem starts really with the lack of government," she told the Belfast Telegraph.
"We want to show it's a real problem that won't just go away, it needs a revolution.
"I feel young men and women in particular, all ages really, in Northern Ireland have been so badly affected.
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"The suicide rates are the highest they've ever been. To be the smallest part of the UK and to have the highest rate just speaks volumes really.
"That's especially over the Christmas period because there's nowhere for young people to turn if they need to speak to someone.
"Even the likes of counsellors, you're waiting weeks before you do actually get an appointment with someone."
Ms Murphy said she agreed with a call from the SDLP to appoint a dedicated mental health minister at Stormont.
"That should be a top priority government right now with the loss of life as well as the budget for mental health and a lack of specialism in certain fields in terms of counsellors."
Still a work in progress, both organisers have welcomed suggestions for the protest.
"We're still learning about all the practical things you need to get for an event like this. Hundreds of people have been messaging us every hour with their ideas," she said.
"We want people to feel they're being heard."
A fundraising page has been started to cover costs of the event, with any excess to be donated to charity.
Belfast Telegraph Digital