AQW 22472/17-22

Mr Keith Buchanan
Democratic Unionist Party
Mid Ulster

Tabled Date: 15/09/2021
Answered On Date: 23/09/2021
Priority Written: No

To ask the Minister of Health what his Department is doing to reduce the waiting time to be seen by a Mental Health Team in each Health and Social Care Trust.

I am aware of the challenges and needs across mental health services and therefore published a new Mental Health Strategy on 29 June 2021.
The Strategy introduces 35 actions to reform our mental health services to ensure that our population has access to the care and treatment they need when they need it. These actions are key in helping to reduce waiting lists, by ensuring a good start in life; providing effective support early through primary care and accessible treatment, to prevent or delay the onset of more serious mental health problems; and ensuring that people who are usually difficult to reach are targeted.
The Strategy proposes changing how mental health services are structured, with a greater focus on the community. This means reorganising mental health services around the community, with an increased focus on our GPs. This will involve increasing the availability of therapy hubs to meet local needs and will ensure a focus is maintained, and will result in improved outcomes for individuals.
My Department has also been working to make additional mental health support available in primary care through the Multi-Disciplinary Team programme, which has introduced new social work, physiotherapy and mental health roles into General Practice. Through a holistic approach, it provides local populations with timely and accessible health and wellbeing support at the earliest stages.
Finally, the Strategy also proposes a comprehensive workforce review designed to consider the existing workforce’s needs and training, as well as the development of a new workforce. Doing so will help ensure that we have a well-supported workforce that is fit for the future and which meets the needs of those with mental ill health.