At the end of this month, we will be submitting our response to the draft Mental Health Strategy 2021-2031. As the DHC Clear Project Manager and the Community & Voluntary representative on the Western  Protect Life Implementation Group, I would love to hear your thoughts on this consultation document and your ideas on how we can improve services going forward.

Get in touch

We know that responding to consultations can be daunting but we also know that inputting our thoughts, experiences and priorities now is the best way to shape the future. Remember - this new strategy will determine services over that period and set us on a journey for the future.  

We have created a very simple form and would be delighted if you could take ten minutes to give us your comments and we will include them in our response.

Tell us your thoughts

The right path

We need to make sure that the direction of travel is right and that it meets the needs of everyone in our community. In particular, I’m keen for community and voluntary groups to have their say on the 29 high-level mental health actions to take forward significant strategic change over the next decade. Not all actions will be initiated at once; implementation will be taken forward through a phased approach to ensure the greatest impact. Detailed plans will be developed to progress the implementation of the Strategy.

What is in the consultation?

The draft Mental Health Strategy 2021–2031 sets out a number of key actions:

  • a commitment to develop a year-on-year action plan for mental health promotion;
  • greater investment in and further roll out of psychological therapy hubs in primary care;
  • better integration between the statutory and community and voluntary sectors; and
  • the creation of a single mental health service to ensure regional consistency, quality and access across Northern Ireland.

The great news is that a separate Mental Health Funding Plan will be published alongside the full Strategy and will provide a spending plan for mental health for the full period of the Strategy.

Our priorities

At Developing Healthy Communities, we promote a number of key areas that align very closely to the vision of the Strategy. These are:

  • EDUCATION: In seeking to reduce stigma we appreciate that awareness raising and education about mental health will be essential.
  • REAL CHOICE: Consistency and equity of access to services, regardless of where a person lives.
  • NO BARRIERS: We want a mental health system that breaks down barriers to put the individual and their needs right at the centre, respecting diversity, equality and human rights, to ensure people have access to the right help and treatment at the right time, and in the right place.
  • COMPASSION: Mental health services that are able to recognise and address the effects of trauma, that are built on real evidence of what works, and which focus on improving quality of life and enabling people to achieve their potential should be aspired to.

Strategic themes

We believe that these priorities should ‘cross-cut’ all of the 29 priorities for action that have been outlined in the draft strategy. These actions were identified by a Strategic Advisory Panel (SAP) which co-produced policy advice on key themes. As well as the interim Mental Health Champion, this panel included members from the voluntary and community sector, those with lived experience and others. 

The three themes identified are:

  • Theme 1 - Promoting wellbeing and resilience through prevention and early intervention (Actions 1 – 4)
    • Promotion, early intervention and prevention
    • Promoting children and their families’ positive mental health
  • Theme 2 – Providing the right support at the right time (Actions 5 – 24)
    • Child and adolescence mental health
    • Mental health and older adults
    • Community Mental Health
    • Psychological therapies
    • Physical healthcare and mental illness
    • In-patient mental health services
    • Crisis services
    • Co-current mental health issues and substance use (dual diagnosis)
    • Specialist interventions
  • Theme 3 – New ways of working (Actions 25 – 29)
    • A regional mental health service
    • Workforce for the future
    • Data and outcomes
    • Innovation and research

You can view the draft Mental Health Strategy, supporting consultation documentation, and respond online by accessing the Department of Health website

View draft Mental Health Strategy