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Mental health group tells Executive to take action to tackle issue

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Meeting: Robin Swann

Meeting: Robin Swann

Meeting: Robin Swann

Young mental health campaigners are urging the Health Minister to take urgent action in relation to the implementation of a mental health strategy for Northern Ireland.

Members of the Elephant in the Room (EITR) campaign group, which was set up by Belfast City Council Youth Forum and the Northern Ireland Youth Forum, are to meet with Robin Swann later this month.

They will appear before the Executive Work Group on Mental Wellbeing, Resilience and Suicide Prevention on July 29 to demand wide-ranging mental health reform.

John Jo McGrady, chairperson of Belfast Youth Forum, said many of his close friends had suffered from the effects of poor mental health, and had experienced a lack of support to deal with the problem.

He called on the Executive to address the crisis.

"The time for change is now. Mental health has been overlooked for too long. This meeting gives us a genuine opportunity to meet with the full Executive with all departments represented to give practical and effective solutions," explained John Jo.

In 2017, the EITR produced its first research report examining mental health involving 1,117 young people.

Niamh Mallaghan, a member of the Northern Ireland Youth Forum Executive Committee, said: "This campaign gives young people the opportunity to make their voices heard at the highest level to make the changes needed to end the misery of poor mental health, self-harm and suicide."

Alliance Party MLA, Chris Lyttle said he whole heartedly backed the EITR campaign.

"I support the need for the Northern Ireland Executive to prioritise and deliver improved mental health and wellbeing provision for our society," he said.

"I asked the Health Minister to meet with young people from the EITR campaign and to allocate officials and resources at his disposal to support the delivery of the substantive proposals made by this youth-led campaign."

Belfast Telegraph