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UUP appoints Robbie Butler as dedicated mental health spokesman


Lagan Valley: Robbie Butler, UUP

Lagan Valley: Robbie Butler, UUP

Lagan Valley: Robbie Butler, UUP

The UUP has become the first party to appoint a dedicated spokesman on mental health.

Newly-elected MLA Robbie Butler will work in support of the party's health spokeswoman Jo-Anne Dobson to highlight the increasing issue affecting almost 30% of the population.

Announcing the appointment yesterday, leader Mike Nesbitt said: "Per capita, we have one of the worst records of poor mental health and wellbeing in the world - not just higher rates than England, Scotland and Wales, but also Israel and Lebanon."

A new party policy document has called on the Government to release half of the £150m ring-fenced for dealing with the legacy of the Troubles to tackle mental health issues - £75m over five years.

Next year marks a decade since the Bamford review of mental health services demanded widespread changes.

Lagan Valley MLA Mr Butler added: "Mental health issues currently directly affect 28.5% of our population, never mind the impact on families, friends and associates. There can be no hiding from the fact that, as a country, we suffer among the worst rates of poor mental health and wellbeing on the planet."

Mr Nesbitt said the pace of implementing the Bamford report had been too slow.

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He said "fixing the problem offered a triple win", adding: "It would address one of the most toxic legacies of the Troubles. It would help those who are trapped on benefits to find a more fulfilling life, and by making people economically active, it would help rebalance the economy."

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