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As members of the Project Steering Group which co-produced the report that set out these recommendations, we are delighted that the Regional Mental Health Service will reshape and reform how we deliver mental health services across the country.
On World Mental Health Day, Health Minister Robin Swann has announced new arrangements for a Regional Mental Health Service in Northern Ireland.
The establishment of the new Service is one of the key enabling actions contained within the Mental Health Strategy published in June 2021.
Minister Swann said: “When I took up the Health portfolio, I was clear that mental health would be one of my top priorities. The Mental Health Strategy, which I published last year, set out my plans for the reform of mental health services in order to ensure people can get the specialist help and support they need when they need it.”
“On World Mental Health Day, with its theme to ‘make mental health and wellbeing for all a global priority’, it is particularly timely that I am able to announce new arrangements to create a Regional Mental Health Service, which has at its core the objective of providing people across Northern Ireland with equitable access to high quality, regionally consistent but locally based mental health services, working across primary and secondary mental healthcare and with the full integration of the community and voluntary sector.”
The Regional Mental Health Service (RMHS), as an integral element of the new Integrated Care System, includes structures and organisational arrangements designed to ensure regional co-ordination and consistency of mental health services and to drive and support locally delivered integrated care.
This will be led by a fully representative Regional Mental Health Collaborative Board, responsible for leadership and oversight of mental health services development and delivery. Arrangements for the recruitment process to appoint a Head of the new Collaborative Board are being put in place.
Welcoming the announcement, the Mental Health Champion Professor Siobhan O’Neill said “The creation of a Regional Mental Health Service is one of the most important actions in our Mental Health Strategy, and I warmly welcome today’s announcement. In addition to delivering consistency of access to specialist mental health treatments and services across all parts of Northern Ireland, the new Regional Service encompasses the community and voluntary sector, who have played a key role in the delivery of services across the region.
“The Service also includes mechanisms to ensure that the views of those with lived experience of poor mental health are heard, and that services are co-designed with service users. These key features will be central to the success of the Service in meeting the needs of our population. I look forward to working closely with the Collaborative Board, and engaging with service users and other stakeholders, to monitor the rollout of the Service, and to ensure that the commitments outlined in the model for the Service are delivered in full.”