A new wall mural highlighting mental health issues and providing information on support services has been unveiled in Belfast.
It takes the space previously occupied by the Workers Party anti-sectarian message on the Northumberland Street wall in a temporary arrangement between the Party and a group of local artists concerned about mental health.
The Party’s collaboration with the local artists seeks to highlight mental health issues and signpost some of the services and help available to individuals, families and friends.
Regrettably it comes at an opportune time. The number of people taking their own lives in Northern Ireland is the highest on these islands. The rate is almost twice that of England and deaths in the Belfast area remain the highest in Northern Ireland.
More people have now taken their own lives since the paramilitary ceasefires of 1994 than died during the period of ‘The Troubles’
The factors involved for each person can often be complicated, but research is consistently identifying the need for increased mental health service provision, rising drug and alcohol misuse, changes in family life and expectations and the legacy of the ‘Troubles’ but austerity, high levels of poverty, social exclusion and disadvantage must be central to our understanding of this crisis.
Mental health matters and that needs to be demonstrated by the Northern Ireland Assembly. Funding, resources, service developments, long term strategies and new initiatives are all priorities but so too must be a commitment to address and tackle the root causes of much of our mental ill health.
- Three times as many people die by suicide in Northern Ireland each year than are killed in road traffic collisions
- A total of 219,000 people have been directly affected by suicide since 2005
- More than 70% of people who die by suicide are not known to mental health services
- 10% of 15-16 year olds have self-harmed at some stage
- In 1970, 73 people took their own lives in Northern Ireland, according to the Northern Ireland Statistics and Research Agency
- In 2013, there were more than 300 deaths – and that figure has remained largely the same since then