Belfast Telegraph

Sunday Life

Campaigners want Stormont return to tackle mental health crisis

Lamees Shaath 15, and Euan Gepp 15 Newtownabbey at Cornmarket in Belfast to raise awareness of the Mental Health crisis in Northern Ireland
Lamees Shaath 15, and Euan Gepp 15 Newtownabbey at Cornmarket in Belfast to raise awareness of the Mental Health crisis in Northern Ireland
04 Jan 2020 - Lucinda Graham at Cornmarket in Belfast to raise awareness of the Mental Health crisis in Northern Ireland
04 Jan 2020 - Charlie Vance 17, Rachael Dobbin 16, Benjamin Warwick 16, and Oliver McBride 18 at Cornmarket in Belfast to raise awareness of the Mental Health crisis in Northern Ireland
04 Jan 2020 - Lucinda Graham at Cornmarket in Belfast to raise awareness of the Mental Health crisis in Northern Ireland

By Christopher Woodhouse

Mental health campaigners rallied today to call for Stormont to return and tackle the growing crisis.

The Strike For Mental at Cornmarket in Belfast city centre was organised by lobby group Pure Mental and attended by over 70 people.

One those there was Lucinda Graham, who has spoken candidly about her own battle with mental health issues.

She called for an urgent return of the Assembly and Executive to fix what she described as a “broken system”.

“The system is under funded. I work with kids who have been on waiting lists for over 10 months for counselling, these are high risk kids who want to take their own lives and they are not being seen,” she told Sunday Life.

“The aim of the rally was first and foremost to raise awareness among the public, to break mental health stigma.

“Northern Ireland has the highest suicide rate in the UK, the highest rate of self harm, we have huge issues with trauma, PTSD and post-natal depression.

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“With the collapse of the Assembly that’s really affected the implementation of change for mental health.

“You have nobody able to be appointed as a minister for mental health, which was meant to be in the works but that all went to pot when Stormont collapsed.

“We need to get people back into Stormont.”

04 Jan 2020 - Anna Kernahan 17, Sophie Waring 18, Chloe Chestnut 19, Owen McClure 18, Verity Wenner 19 at Cornmarket in Belfast to raise awareness of the Mental Health crisis in Northern Ireland
04 Jan 2020 - Anna Kernahan 17, Sophie Waring 18, Chloe Chestnut 19, Owen McClure 18, Verity Wenner 19 at Cornmarket in Belfast to raise awareness of the Mental Health crisis in Northern Ireland

The 23-year-old called for education about how to cope with mental issues was required, couple with training for the likes of teachers on how to spot the signs of mental illness.

“People should learn from a young age how to build emotional well-being and resilience and also how to spot when things aren’t normal and we need services bolstered and with more staffing,” she said.

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