Elected Members on Mid and East Antrim Borough Council have agreed to establish a Mental Health and Wellbeing Recovery Strategy to tackle a growing mental health crisis in the wake of the COVID-19 emergency.
A Notice of Motion, tabled by Councillor Lauren Gray and seconded by her Alliance Party colleague, Alderman Gerardine Mulvenna, was agreed at the November meeting of Full Council.
The proposal called for Council to take action to address the increasing mental health ‘pandemic’ and to work across the borough to provide effective support for those in need and expand on current mental health and wellbeing programmes.
The promotion of positive mental health and wellbeing is a strategic priority within Council’s Community Plan and elected members make up a Health Sub Group.
Meanwhile, a major new Regional Mental Health and Wellbeing Strategy was launched by Council Chief Executive, Anne Donaghy OBE, in September of this year and will be rolled out to local government employees across Northern Ireland.
Councillor Gray, addressing the Chamber, said:
“COVID-19 has changed the goal posts on everything. We regularly discuss the economic impact and the financial realities that lie ahead so ideally I would like to see the same attitude adopted in how we offer support when it comes to mental health.
“Throughout the first lockdown, Council did so much for so many and now we need to channel that energy and support towards the growing list of people who are at risk as the winter months roll in. With further restrictions and Christmas on the horizon, it is extremely lonely.
“These groups would include those living alone of all ages, those grieving a loss, pregnant women who are subject to some terrible restrictions at the moment, single parent households, the elderly, those facing unemployment and financial hardship and anyone else who will find the festive season particularly hard .
“I am glad my Council colleagues from all parties could support this idea, clearing the way for a mental health recovery strategy, placing the same priority on mental health as we are assessing all other aspects of our recovery.”