Mental health service for Troubles’ victims planned

Commissioner for Victims and Survivors Judith Thompson pictured in the Hilton Hotel, Belfast. 'Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
Commissioner for Victims and Survivors Judith Thompson pictured in the Hilton Hotel, Belfast. 'Picture By: Arthur Allison/Pacemaker.
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Plans for a new network of mental health ‘trauma services’ designed to address the legacy of the Troubles have been set out in detail by the Health and Social Care Board.

The plans, which were agreed by the DUP and Sinn Fein as part of the Stormont House Agreemet back in 2014, are out for public consultation until September.

The agreement struck back then included a pledge to act on a recommendation by the Northern Ireland Commission for Victims and Survivors’ for a mental trauma service.

The commission said the trauma service should operate within the health service but also work closely with the Victims and Survivors Service and other groups who work with victims of the Troubles.

The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) say that an estimated 61% of adults living in Northern Ireland have experienced a traumatic event at some point in their lifetime and around 39% have experienced a traumatic event related to the Troubles.

The consultation plans set out by the HSCB yesterday involve putting the new trauma services network into practice in three phases.

The first will involve putting in place what the HSCB describe as a new “pathway” to make it easier for Troubles victims to access help, as well as designing a new “pathway” for children and young people to access psychological help.

The second phase is described as “full implementation of newly enhanced trauma services” for everyone, while the third phase is earmarked for strengthening the existing services with any lessons learned from the first two phases.

Marie Roulston, Director of Social Care and Children with the HSCB said: “Along with all of our partners we are firmly committed to the vision set out in the Stormont House Agreement to establish a comprehensive Mental Health Trauma Service in Northern Ireland.”

Victims’ Commissioner Judith Thompson said: “Creating a new service operating on a partnership basis between the health and social care service and community organisations will provide a timely, effective and accessible specialist service for victims and survivors whose mental health has been blighted by their experience of the Troubles/Conflict.”

She added: “This consultation is an important opportunity for victims and survivors and wider stakeholders to express their views on the continued development and future operation of this vitally important and long awaited service.”