Party support for mental health campaign

Supporting the 123 GP campaign: Hugh Scullion (Maghera) centre with Patrick Lynn (South Belfast) and Joanne Lowry (West Belfast)

Party representatives from Belfast and Maghera attended the launch of the 123 GP campaign in the Long Gallery, Stormont, to highlight the need for more mental health counselling services in GP practices.

Organised by the Mental Health Rights Campaign the 123 GP initiative is designed to secure three urgent service changes:

  1. Funding: to ensure that all GPs in Northern Ireland draw down the money currently available to fund counselling services
  2. Training: That all trainee GPs undertake community based mental health  placements and that all practicing GPs undergo mandatory professional mental health training
  3. Available Expertise: Professionals with mental health expertise such as mental health social workers or CPNs to be based in GP practices and to work as part of the primary care team


Speaking at the event Joanne Lowry welcomed the initiative and pledged the Party’s full support to the campaigners. She also called on additional support and counselling to be made available for the relatives and carers of people with mental health problems, identifying what she called “a hidden and often forgotten group of people”.

Joanne also called for GPs to become direct employees of the NHS rather than independent contractors thus ensuring that practice based mental health counselling services could be guaranteed rather than be left as an optional add on.

Mental Health Facts

  • Currently , only two -thirds of GP practices have in house mental health counselling
  • Existing services can only provide a limited response
  • 4 out of 10 GP appointments are mental health related
  • Only 5% of our health budget is spent on mental health services
  • In England and Wales that figure is 11% – more than double
  • Currently we spend £2.95p per person on mental health

For more information on the 123 GP campaign log on to

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