Everyone has mental health needs whether they have a diagnosis of mental illness. And during the course of any year one in four people will suffer from a mental illness, yet sadly not everyone gets the support they need. There are a range of factors that influence our mental health & wellbeing and according to the Protect Life 2 document:
Suicide rates in the most deprived areas here are three times higher than in the least deprived; for self harm that differential is four times higher. And men continue to be three times more likely to die by suicide than women.
It's time for Stormont to step up to the plate!
The 2003-2008 Promoting Mental Health Strategy & Action plan published by the DHSSPSNI had a number of specific actions relating to Prisons/the justice system, including – Action 12: 'The Prison service will provide access to appropriate services to those in prison with recognised mental health problems.' And Action 28: 'The prison services will ensure that all remand and sentenced prisoners continue to receive initial and ongoing monitoring of their mental health & assessment of the risk of suicide.'
The recent cases of Sean Lynch and Paddy Kelly immediately come to mind. Sean who whilst very unwell self harmed and blinded himself and Paddy Kelly a prisoner with a known history of self harm who asked not to keep his own medications overdosed on stockpiled medications and passed away. Both men were prisoners in Maghaberry prison.
Two days ago Steven Davis, the Governor of Maghaberry Gaol said that 'prisons are not suitable for dealing with people with serious mental health problems.' After numerous prisoners have completed suicide and with over 25% of the 900 men held in Maghaberry said to have severe mental health issues I don't think I'm being unkind when I say Mr Davis' statement is too little too late.
The Stormont Assembly has now published a consultation on their proposed strategy to address suicide & self harm. So we now have the opportunity to have an input to tell those in positions of power what is needed. And when we tell them what is needed, and they publish their final strategy, we can hold them to account if they continue to fail vulnerable people who need support.
The Protect Life 2 strategy consultation is open until November 4th 2016 and I would urge everyone who can make a positive contribution to take this opportunity.
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