PIPS backs mental health campaign

Mental Health Rights Campaign members from the Larne area pictured at Stormont with politicians who support the initiative. INLT 40-680-CON
Mental Health Rights Campaign members from the Larne area pictured at Stormont with politicians who support the initiative. INLT 40-680-CON
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Larne-based suicide prevention charity PIPS has backed a campaign aimed at providing better support for people suffering mental health issues.

The charity has teamed up with the newly-launched Mental Health Rights Campaign group, which was set up after a recent survey revealed that nine out of 10 mental health service users and their carers don’t have enough information about where to go for help when in crisis.

The initiative is calling for the inclusion of mental health information in the Health and Social Care Board’s ‘Choose Well’ scheme, which gives people advice about what type of help is available and when to use it.

Choose Well includes information about what help is available from pharmacists, GPs, out of hours GP or at A&E.

However, it currently contains no information relevant to mental health and the help available for people in distress.

And campaigners believe the exclusion of this information is a massive oversight, given NI’s relatively high suicide rate.

Carlee Letson from PIPS Larne said: “People have told us they don’t have enough information on where to go to get help.

“The Choose Well campaign doesn’t give a choice for those affected by mental health. There is no information on sources of help for a person in mental health crisis or their family. It is vital that people can access the right information on where to get help, when they need it.

“Families and people who have been through the distressing experience of trying to get help in a mental health crisis know from their own experience what that information should include. We want to make sure their voices are listened to, so the information included on mental health is exactly what those in crisis and their families really need.”

The Mental Health Rights Campaign group recently presented Health Minister, Jim Wells with almost 1000 pledges of support from across Northern Ireland.

The group has secured a meeting with the Health and Social Care Board, which is responsible for the Choose Well campaign, for later this month. They are calling on the Minister to ensure that the Board take no decisions to finalise the campaign without first including information about where those in mental health distress should go for help and also involving those with experience of mental health problems themselves.