PPR is delighted to announce that it was recently successful in securing 3 years funding from Comic Relief for the continuation of its mental health campaign work. The new funding is vindication of the hard work and success of the groups who make up the campaign network.

The funding will enable the strengthening of the campaign work which presently covers 3 Health Trust areas. The Network successfully campaigned in 2014 for mental health to be included in the government’s information campaign Choose Well as well as ensuring that it was people affected by mental health issues who selected the content of the information to be included in it. The funding will enable PPR to employ 2 part time staff to work with groups to use human rights to make real improvements to mental health services.

Recent monitoring of mental health services by the campaign network through surveys and focus groups has highlighted ongoing issues with services such as increased waiting times especially at GPs and less satisfaction about the care provided by them compared to a year ago. Other issues highlighted in the monitoring report include carers saying that they still do not receive enough information to help them make choices about their loved one’s care and poor follow up care. Future Network campaigns are likely to focus on some of these persistent problems.  The Network’s strength was highlighted by the collection of the highest number of surveys in our mental health campaign work to-date – 104! Many thanks to all those groups and individuals who helped out including: S.T.E.P.S Draperstown, PANGS NI, FASA SAFE Group, PIPS Family Group Belfast, PIPS Newcastle, Parents Support Action Group (Belfast and Lisburn), Upper Springfield Development Trust, Mindwise Carers Support Groups, Belfast Mental Health Rights Group.

The Belfast Mental Health Rights Group has been raising concerns about the implementation of the ‘card before you leave’ appointment system for some time now. The failure on the part of the Health and Social Care Board to supply adequate information on the system, led the group to take the decision to withdraw from the ‘Self Harm Working Group’ meetings with the Health and Social Care Board as they were not proving an effective mechanism to make change. Pressure applied by the group resulted in them attending monitoring visits to Emergency Departments with staff from the Public Health Agency (PHA) and the Health & Social Care Board (HSCB) during the summer. Frontline hospital staff confirmed some of these concerns like some Trusts not giving out duplicate CBYL cards to carers nor information leaflets provided the by PHA such  the ‘Family Guide: Caring for someone who self harms or has suicidal thoughts’. Both of these were commitments given to the Belfast Mental Health Rights Group by the Health and Social Care Board.

PPR look forward to working with the Mental Health Rights Campaign on these issues and more in the New Year.