Cllr Hunter said any restored Executive must prioritise emergency funds for mental health facilities to assist ‘point of need care.’
Said the Deputy Mayor: “In the North West, we have some of the worst statistics for poor mental health and suicide across these islands yet funding and provisions lags far behind our counterparts.
“Patently, more must be done to fully support people living with mental illness- to ensure access to safe, immediate and accessible treatment for all.
“In the absence of an Executive however, the inability to ring-fence funding where it is needed most means many people are left unheard or overlooked.
“Indeed, the regional imbalance of resources or ‘postcode lottery’ means from Derry to the Derg, people with ill mental health are left unequipped, suffering in silence without support and access to mental health services more readily available elsewhere.
“Just last year my party colleague Mark H Durkan highlighted unspent funding allocated to the crisis de-escalation service in Belfast. His hard-fought efforts secured £20,000 which was then relocated to a similar centre in Derry.
“Whilst welcome, it is incredulous to me that we have to fight tooth and nail for every penny of funding here in the North West.”
She added: “Without a Health Minister making crucial decisions it is left to our hardworking health staff, charities including Extern and volunteers to hold this city together on shoe-string budgets.
“Poor mental health is an issue which transcends politics. It is something our MLAs need to be actively working on, in Stormont, on a cross-party basis.
“PTSD echoes through our towns and villages, it is hand-in-hand with addiction and drug dependency which is devastating our communities.
“We are a post-conflict society and our support services and access to mental healthcare must reflect that reality.
“This is not a crass attempt to espouse populist rhetoric, it is simply a moment to reflect and highlight that our government, regardless of orange or green politics, has an obligation to act.
“And in the absence of an Executive for over 1000 days, whilst we do not act, people continue to suffer.
“Some may say this language is overly emotive but mental illness and suicide is an unfortunate reality for far too many families here.
“Sifting through the North’s suicide statistics this week, it was difficult knowing that among them my best friend was included.
“A life of twenty years reduced to a number on a page. We need to remember that these are lives not statistics.
“I would urge all parties to protect our vulnerable and get back to work up on the hill. We never know when this could land at our door.”Tags: