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KEEPING MENTAL HEALTH IN MIND

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In a year which saw Blindboy Boatclub become an unofficial national spokespers­on on mental health and dozens of artists, entertaine­rs and public figures talked openly about their battles with depression and anxiety, we also saw delays and misinforma­tion in relation to mental health reform at a government level.

When the 2018 Budget announced that €35 million was being set aside for mental health services back in October, mental health charities were quick to point out that €20 million of this had already been promised for 2017, but hadn’t been delivered. They were angered by the fact that a poxy €15 million a year was not only a

reduction in the amount desperatel­y needed for the sector, but that it also fell far short of the internatio­nal norm.

On top of this, the suicide rate in Northern Ireland continues to be one of the highest in Western Europe, with most mental health profession­als agreeing that the alarmingly high rate is directly associated with the unresolved legacy of the Troubles, as well as the impact of discrimina­tory laws still in operation in the country. Remarkably, Northern Irish politician­s have done even less than their southern counterpar­ts this year, through the simple fact that there hasn’t been a government in Northern Ireland since the first month of 2017…

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