NI Minister launches new mental health improvement programme

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey today officially launched a new programme to help people maintain positive mental health and wellbeing.

The ‘Fit for Life, Fit for Work, Fit for Change’ initiative is a six month programme which aims to support people whose personal and working lives are affected by stress, anxiety, depression, suicidal thoughts, unemployment and life trauma. The programme offers one-to-one coaching for clients and a self-help programme.

The Minister said: “Positive mental wellbeing is fundamental to our quality of life. It helps a person to develop their potential, work productively, build strong relationships, develop a sense of self worth and contribute to their community.

“Working with partners from various sectors to improve mental wellbeing is an important issue for government and will be a key objective in my department’s new Mental Health and Wellbeing Promotion Strategy.”

The ‘Fit for Life’ programme helps people maintain positive mental health and wellbeing. It provides additional support to GPs, social services and health and welfare providers and looks beyond treating the symptoms of clients, addressing their mental health needs in the broader social context of their lives and communities. The initiative seeks to promote self-help within the community, thereby reducing the number of repeat GP visits and the associated treatment costs.

The Minister continued: “Our mental health is as important as good physical health. Improving people’s emotional wellbeing rather than just treating mental health problems when they occur is pivotal in this initiative.

“If we are to be ‘Fit for Change’, strong emotional resilience is essential to be able to cope with the setbacks that inevitably occur in life and to make the most of the opportunities that will arise.”

The programme, which is being run by Community First Coaching, has been piloted in Springfield Road GP Practice in Belfast since January 2010.