Our calls to challenge the UK Government for adequate funding for mental health services in NI, to support and fund struggling third sector organisations, for an inclusive ban on conversion therapy and to reinstate funding for school counselling have all been included in manifestos published this week.

Solving the budget crisis 

With the latest budget settlement delivering an £84 million cut to health provision, our core manifesto ask was for all the parties in Northern Ireland to challenge the next UK Government to ensure an adequate budget is in place to deliver an effective response to the many health challenges it’s facing, including the crisis in mental health services.

This was reflected in manifesto commitments by all six main parties. We particularly welcome the strong position advocated by the Social Democratic and Labour Party (SDLP) for the UK Government to provide a ‘Marshall Plan’ style intervention to urgently resolve the significant and unique funding issues facing Northern Ireland.  

Support for Third Sector Providers 

We know that without adequate funding, the voluntary and community sector will be unable to play its important role in the mental health strategy, as central delivery partners, alongside statutory services. As a result, vulnerable people and communities will fail to get the accessible services they need and deserve. 

Our manifesto call for increased funding for Community Mental Health services, to ensure early intervention support is in place was echoed by Traditional Unionist Voice (TUV).

The Democratic Unionist Party (DUP) also committed to funding for mental health support services within the criminal justice system, and to direct substantial funding to the Victims and Survivors Service. This is service that provides funding for many BACP accredited services who are doing vital work to address the longstanding shadow of trauma resulting from years of political conflict in Northern Ireland.  

Conversion therapyban

The Ulster Unionists, SDLP and the Allianceparties’ support for an inclusive ban on Conversion Therapy, which we called for in our Northern Ireland manifesto, was great to see. However, we’re disappointed that the two largest parties in the Executive, DUP and Sinn Fein, both neglected to champion this issue. 

Reinstating primary school counselling 

Another of our policy asks stemmed from our recent Northern Ireland School Counselling Coalition campaign to restore funding for counselling and therapeutic interventions in all primary schools.

Disappointingly only the Ulster Unionists reflected this issue with a commitment to ensure all schools had adequate funding.

Our Four Nations Lead, Steve Mulligan, said:

"Mental Health is underrepresented in the manifestos by Northern Ireland parties for this General Election. However, there’s good evidence from all the parties on the need to secure a realistic settlement for health and education from Westminster, to enable much needed progress on mental health. We share this ambition; it’s the core ask in our manifesto. 

"Funding is the main barrier to successful implementation of the Mental Health Strategy and to many of our additional manifesto asks, including adequate remuneration for the third sector and the return of primary school counselling. 

"If we’re to turn the corner on the significant mental health challenges facing Northern Ireland then we need to see a Government in Westminster which is prepared to take responsibility and invest in the future of the nation and its people." 

Support our General Election campaign   

We’ve provided an overview of all the main pollical party manifestos throughout the General Election campaign.      
You can support our General Election campaign by sharing our manifesto commitments with your local candidates via oureasy-to-use online form.