| 7.8°C Belfast


Editor's Viewpoint

Figures highlight mental health woes

Viewpoint


Close

'DLA claims, suicide rates, and now startling levels of consumption of anti-depressants show a province with a very worrying mental health problem.'

'DLA claims, suicide rates, and now startling levels of consumption of anti-depressants show a province with a very worrying mental health problem.'

PA

'DLA claims, suicide rates, and now startling levels of consumption of anti-depressants show a province with a very worrying mental health problem.'

When it comes to indicators of morbidity, Northern Ireland is consistently at the top of the charts in the UK.

DLA claims, suicide rates, and now startling levels of consumption of anti-depressants show a province with a very worrying mental health problem.

While the legacy of three decades of horrifying violence could be a part explanation, now, 20 years after the signing of the Good Friday Agreement and the ending of the inter-community murderous campaign which claimed more than 3,000 lives and left many more injured both physically and mentally, that legacy shows little sign of abating.

DUP MLA Christopher Stalford has revealed that in the 12 months from January to December last year 2.75m prescriptions for anti-depressants were dispensed, compared to 2.5m the previous year and 2.4m in 2018. This continued increase shows Northern Ireland to be a zombie nation, reaching for medication just to get through the day.

Undoubtedly the incidence of depression has been increased due to the coronavirus pandemic with many people forced to isolate and suffering from loneliness and fear over what the future might hold for them. Bereavement and the inability to hold traditional funerals for loved ones are other contributory factors.

The figures also show that the problem is likely to be with us for some time as the legacy of the pandemic works its way through the population.

Mental health, as has been pointed out many times, was a Cinderella sector of healthcare for many years as other health problems were given priority by a hard-pressed and under-resourced health service.

The stories of people with acute mental health problems being unable to access care until it was too late are legion and it is therefore encouraging that the Executive is beginning to take the problem seriously.

A new 10-year mental health strategy is currently out for consultation and a Mental Health Champion is expected to be appointed later this year.

These are important foundations but the problems of mental health will only be addressed properly if adequate resources, both financial and staffing, are made available.

Given the many other problems in the health service with soaring waiting times and even cancer treatments being delayed because of the demands of treating coronavirus, it will take all the persuasive powers of the new Mental Health Champion to ensure action is taken.

Belfast Telegraph


Top Videos



Privacy