This May’s Assembly election will see all 90 MLAs being elected, with five from each of Northern Ireland’s 18 constituencies. It's important we use this crucial opportunity to ensure the voice of counselling and psychotherapy is heard loud and clear by the next cohort of MLAs, particularly given the increased demand and strain on mental health services following the pandemic.
What are we asking for?
We need cross party political support and real leadership to help our most vulnerable citizens get the support they need and deserve. Important progress has been made in recent years through the development of the Ten Year Mental Health Strategy, but much more needs to be done to improve access to, and quality of, mental health services.
We want every candidate to commit to five pledges to ensure that growing demand for counselling support is addressed with appropriate and accessible provision during the next parliament:
- Secure the £1.2bn shortfall in the Mental Health Strategy’s Funding Plan and commit to ensuring this will enable appropriate and accessible counselling provision across Northern Ireland to address longstanding gaps in support which have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
- Ensure that the next Minster for Health delivers a holistic mental health workforce strategy which fully deploys the under-used counselling and psychotherapy workforce in Northern Ireland.
- Ensure the next Minister for Health enhances the role of counselling and psychotherapy within health and social care, including free at the point of need counselling and psychotherapy available to all through their GP.
- Ensure the next Minister for Education commits to long term funding of the Healthy Happy Minds therapeutic and counselling service beyond the existing pilot, ensuring all primary aged children in Northern Ireland have access to qualified, specialist children and young people counselling practitioners.
- Commit to helping improve access to high quality and culturally sensitive services to people from marginalised community backgrounds and those at greatest risk of psychological distress and mental ill health, including recent refugees fleeing persecution.
We want BACP members to play an active role
Throughout the election campaign, candidates will be trying to talk to you and earn your vote. We encourage you to use all opportunities to advocate the need for, and value of, counselling and psychotherapy, reflecting on your personal experience as a therapist and key issues in your constituency.
- highlight our manifesto asks when party activists and candidates canvass you on your doorstep
- write to all candidates in your area using our simple email tool
- attend a hustings event and ask the candidates what their plans are for expanding counselling provision
Together we can send every new MLA back to Stormont with the clear message that counselling changes lives.
Who is standing in your constituency?
There will be a range of candidates campaigning for votes in your constituency.
If you do speak to your candidate about counselling and psychotherapy over the election period, please feedback to us at email@example.com