This week I visited the New Horizons project run by Action Mental Health. The New Horizons service deliver specialist training and employment programmes for people with mental ill health and what a fantastic project it is!
I was warmly welcomed by both staff and clients who were eager to give me a sense of the work they do and the benefit it brings both to individuals and society as a whole.
Mental health issues have formed a major part of my time as an MLA over the last 4 years and for good reason, 1 in 4 of us will at some point in our lives struggle with mental ill health. Throughout the last 4 years I have not met one single family that has not been effected one way or another. It is an issue that as a society we cannot ignore, unfortunately however it seems at times we try to do just that.
Yes government cuts are running deep and everyone is facing hard times, however mental health is not where we should be making cuts-certainly not this harshly or this quickly. Every prediction tells us that with hard times comes a sharp rise in mental health issues – so we need more provision, more preventative programmes not less. Cutting mental health funding does not make economic sense, research consistently shows that money spent on preventative mental health programmes bring substantial SAVINGS to the health service.
I will continue to fight the corner of those providing mental health services because not only do they do a fantastic job but statistically all of our families will need their help at some point.
Thanks to New Horizons for their tour and their time.