The Mental Health Rights Campaign (MHRC) is delighted to announce that the Health and Social Care Board has agreed that mental health will now be included in the public information material in Year 2 of the Choose Well campaign, which is due to run in the Winter of 2014. Pressure mounted on the government to include mental heatlh when the MHRC gathered support from MLAs from all parties in the Northern Ireland Assembly  Health Committee as well as almost 1000 individuals and groups impacted by mental health. The campaign was further endorsed by Professor Paul Hunt, former UN Special Rapporteur on the Rights to Health. MHRC would like to take the opportunity to thank everyone who took time to support the campaign.

Concerns and next steps

The MHRC is, however, concerned that the HSCB has indicated that there may not be the budget to revise all materials. For example, regarding the Choose Well information leaflet, which was widely distributed in Year 1 of the campaign, the HSCB has, to date, only committed to revising the online version of this. There is no committment to reprint and distribute the updated leaflet containing mental health information. We feel that it is vital that all campaign materials are updated and distributed so that the most vulnerable in our society, who are experiencing mental health crisis, have the information they need - when they need it.  Moreover,  according to the Office of National Statistics* Northern Ireland has the lowest proportion of internet users in the UK  - this highlights the importance of not relying solely on online information.

Updating all campaign materials would go some way towards reddressing the massive oversight that saw mental health being omitted from all campaign materials during year one of the campaign. To this end groups are asking their local MLAs and the Health Committee to help us out again by formally writing to the HSCB regarding the revsion of the Choose Well campaign, emphasising the importance of including mental health across all campaign materials including leaflets, posters and TV advertisements.

*Internet Access Quarterly Update 2014, Office of National Statistics