The five biggest parties in Northern Ireland have now published their manifestos, and we are pleased to see some of our General Election asks have been reflected.

The DUP’s manifesto was launched two weeks ago and promised to “continue increasing investment in psychological therapies to significantly improve waiting times”.

This pledge reflects our call for urgent investment in therapies to tackle Northern Ireland’s mental health crisis.

The Social and Democratic Labour Party (SDLP) highlighted parity of esteem for mental health services as a priority, reflecting another BACP policy ask.

They noted the need for increased resources for appropriate community-based provision which addresses both the trauma imparted by the conflict and other areas of mental ill health.

The Ulster Unionist Party called for an independent Mental Health Champion to be appointed, to review, monitor and improve the necessary transformation of mental health services across Northern Ireland.

There are no references to counselling or mental health provision in the manifestos for Sinn Fein or the Alliance Party, both of which focused primarily on Brexit.

Critical issue

Steve Mulligan, our Four Nations Lead, said: “We’re pleased to see a strong commitment by the DUP and SDLP on this critical issue of increased resources for mental health support.

"Northern Ireland has the worst mental health in the UK, with prevalence rates estimated to be around 25% higher than in England, and more people have taken their own lives in Northern Ireland since the Good Friday agreement than were killed in political violence during the troubles.

"We need to urgently see this investment going to the front line of mental health support," Steve added.

We’ve contacted all parties with our key manifesto asks. They have been published as part of our new dedicated election web pages.

The web pages include information on what you can do to engage your local General Election candidates to help us protect and promote counselling across the country.

This includes some handy guides, alongside questions that you can put to your election candidate, either in writing or if they knock on your door.

And if you are on social media, use the hashtag #StandUpForCounselling to join in the conversation and see what fellow members are saying.