An Open Letter on Mental Health

An Open Letter to the Minister of Health

A Chara,

As I’m sure you’re aware October 10 marks World Mental Health day. While I and many other people suffering from mental health problems welcome the various commitments to improve our health service, what we really need is action, investment; a coherent plan to put mental and physical health on equal footing. Lip service by political parties during an election cycle simply isn’t enough anymore.

1 in 6 of us will suffer some form of mental health condition. Despite this high prevalence, stigma around these conditions remains widespread. Too often are those suffering from depression told to cheer up, or those with anxiety disorder told to relax. Its this perception that stops those in crisis from seeking help. Whats worse is when that these backwards views are propagated in GP practices across the North. How many lives could be saved if these people felt they could seek medical help?

We are not simply statistics on a piece of paper. Nothing in this world prepares you for the feeling of absolute hopelessness of depression, the overwhelming dread of depression or the never ending mood wings of BPD. Mental health is complex. There will never be a one size fits all solution. But by nurturing an environment where its OK to say you’re not OK, we’d be taking an important step forward.

This isn’t a partisan issue. Its one that affects everyone indiscriminately. It is also one we can tackle. I hope that in your tenure as Minister of Health you will work to support our mental health services, reduce stigma and encourage more people to seek help.

I look forward to hearing what actions you have taken to address these issues to date, and hope your Department will continue to reduce stigma and invest in our vital services in the future.

Le meas,

Michael Nicholl
Vice-Chair, Alliance Youth


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