Brown Calls For More Mental Health Services In South Down

Alliance Councillor calls for enhanced mental health services across South Down.

Alliance Councillor calls for enhanced mental health services across South Down.

Rowallene Alliance councillor Patrick Brown is again calling for the Department of Health to address gaps in the lack of mental health provisions in the South Down area and across the district.

Cllr Brown said: “I am extremely concerned by the lack of mental health services in the local communit. This is an issue I feel is of increasing importance as we are faced with the repercussions of the pandemic.

“In particular, I am frustrated by the absence of a Primary Care Talking Therapy Hub (known as Wellbeing Hubs) in Downpatrick, despite being promised one by the Department of Health over two years ago in Summer 2019.

Rowallene Alliance Councillor Patrick Brown

“While I appreciate the impact of Covid-19 has had on the health service, I feel strongly that mental health and wellbeing must be prioritised, now more than ever.

“The Department of Health recently released its Mental Health Strategy, which acknowledges the worrying state of mental health across Northern Ireland, confirming that there is a 25% higher overall prevalence of mental health problems here than in England.

“In addition, further research by charities and NGOs have highlighted significantly higher levels of depression, antidepressant prescription rates and incidents of self-harm, alongside an increasing suicide rate and a rise in children encountering significant issues.”

Cllr Brown added: “This is only going to be further exacerbated by a post-pandemic mental health crisis, so we need to take urgent action. As such, I am urging the Department to allocate funding and resources so a local Wellbeing Hub can be introduced in the South Down area, allowing us to be properly equipped to tackle the mental health crisis moving forward.

“Currently, the only Wellbeing Hub in the South Eastern HSC Trust area is in Lisburn, and the service is operating at maximum capacity. The location is not easily accessible to people from Downpatrick and the surrounding areas, and so only heightens the problem of services being concentrated in the Belfast area. 

“It is my understanding that the roll-out of the Trust’s Wellbeing Hubs are included in the Department’s new Mental Health Strategy, and so I’ve asked Minister Swann to confirm funding for a hub in Downpatrick and a timeframe for when we can expect to see it introduced.”

Cllr Brown said: “Furthermore, I would like to look into increasing the provision of in-patient mental health services, and in particular assess the feasibility of the Downe Hospital being able to provide these. 

“The Mental Health Strategy indicates that there will be a consolidation of specialist mental health services including psychological therapies, personality disorder services, support for people with eating disorders, and perinatal mental health support.

“I have asked the Department to confirm its plans around how it envisions these services to be provided across the country and I look forward to its response.”