The second meeting of the Executive Working Group on Mental Wellbeing, Resilience and Suicide Prevention has taken place in the Executive Room, Stormont Castle by video conference.
The group was established in January 2020 to coordinate and strengthen the approach to dealing with mental health issues and suicide prevention.
Speaking following the meeting, Minister Swann said “The Covid-19 pandemic has changed lives around the globe, not least in Northern Ireland. We asked people to take actions that were not natural to do so. Staying at home and away from loved ones goes against human nature and I have no doubt the last few months have been extremely difficult for many. The impact on our emotional wellbeing and mental health may not be truly felt for many months possibly years to come.”
The meeting afforded Ministers the opportunity to provide updates on their Department’s progress on the Protect Life 2 action plan. Ministers have all now completed the ‘Suicide Let’s Talk’ training package. This training helps people to identify when someone is presenting with suicidal thoughts or behaviour, to be able to speak out in a supportive manner and also to signpost individuals to the correct services and support.
The group welcomed Professor Siobhan O’Neill and congratulated her on her appointment as interim mental health champion. Minister Swann said: “I believe Siobhan will be a positive voice in advancing emotional wellbeing and good mental health. Her track record speak for itself, and she has been an advocate for good mental health for a long time.”
The Group also welcomed a representative from NI Youth Forum who provided an update on the ‘Elephant in the Room’ campaign. The campaign is a regional youth-led mental health campaign.
In conclusion, Minister Swann said “NI Youth Forum’s participation is evidence of the Executive’s commitment to engagement and co-production with stakeholders to drive forward improvement in policy and services.”