Mental Health Spend ‘Must Double’

The amount the government spends on mental health and learning disability services in NI should double within the next 20 years, a review has found. The Bamford Review, to report later, was set up to examine how services for people with mental illness or learning disabilities could be improved. One in four of NI’s population are affected by some form of mental illness at some point in their lives.

The review began in 2002 and cost £1m to complete. It was launched to evaluate the law, policy and provision of services for those with mental health needs. It closes formally at the conference in Belfast on Tuesday. It has resulted in seven reports with another three in the pipeline.

Professor Roy McClelland, who chaired the review, said more money was crucial. “We presently spend, for example on mental health, well over £100m per year – we need to double that,” he said.

Professor David Bamford, the University of Ulster academic who headed the review, died in January this year. Before his death, he wrote an open letter to the health minister appealing for more cash to be made available.

BBC Northern Ireland health correspondent Dot Kirby said: “Compared to other parts of the UK, Northern Ireland has long been recognised as having both a high level of mental health need and a low level of service provision.

“Professionals who work in the fields of mental health or learning disability often view them as Cinderella services, losing out when it came to getting their fair share of health service cash. So the Bamford Review was set up to show what exactly the shortcomings were and how best they could be addressed.”

Part of the review’s remit was to examine the Mental Health Order and take account of policy developments in Northern Ireland and the EU.