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Mental Health Strategies in Northern Ireland

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Published: Mon, 14 Aug 2017

This text demonstrates that Northern Ireland has a 25% higher record of reports of mental health issues than the remainder of the United Kingdom (UK). It is illustrated that women on average tend to report more mental health problems than men depending on the age category of that person. For example, in almost all cases of the age groups, women recorded to have a higher percentage of showing signs of mental health issues than men. Two age groups which have demonstrated that men have a higher percentage are of the 25-34 and 55-64 age categories. This could be due to a number of reasons as at this age they could be encountering financial or family pressures and issues which could lead to stress or other related mental health illnesses. It is also displayed that as a person increases in age the percentage of people with mental health problems decreases over time and the mental health of a person would improve. The highest and most common form of mental health problems in 2013 reported was anxiety disorders with 14.3% while mood disorders were recorded as 9.6%. Over a period of a year a high 60% of individuals who were suffering from a mental health disorder went untreated. This was more than half of those who required treatment. Those whom did receive medical attention felt as if they didn’t receive help that was of a beneficial standard.

Between 2010/11 and 2014/15, the number of patients who were admitted to hospital for further examinations and monitoring had decreased by 13.3% which suggests that the number of people without any mental health problems were improving. However, the number of beds available to mental health patients had too decreased being a contributing reason as to why the number of people with mental health disorders had decreased, because they were unable to be given any treatment. Of those who were administered to hospital, over half (54.5%) were males.

The amount of medication prescribed for mental health issues such as for anxiety disorders increased by a fifth over four years. With relation to the level of prescriptions for antidepressants, Northern Ireland has higher levels of depression than that of the UK. This has resulted in an increase in the amount of money being spent on the prescriptions. Between 2010 and 2013, Northern Ireland was recorded to have spent the most on prescriptions than England, Scotland and Wales. This suggests that the people of Northern Ireland are experiencing the greatest amount of mental health issues and need an increased amount of anti-depressants. In 2013 it was recorded that two thirds of women were suffering from mood and anxiety disorders and were receiving more antidepressant and antianxiety medication than men and this was twice as high for those in the higher levels of socioeconomic deprivation. In urban deprived areas of Northern Ireland people were 75% more likely to have received medication for anxiety.

The ‘Northern Ireland Young Life and Times’ survey reported that 29% of 16 year olds have experienced serious personal emotional or mental health difficulties. Child health in Northern Ireland can be classified as some of the poorest in the eastern areas of Europe. In 2008 in Northern Ireland, 90% of young people admitted that they had never self-harmed. This decreased to 87% in 2013 which demonstrates an increase the amount of young people who self-harm in 2013.It is predicted that the number of people with dementia in Northern Ireland in 2010 will increase by 40% in 2021. It is also recorded that in Northern Ireland the elderly population living in nursing homes is 3.5 times higher than in England. Reports for mental health problems in men aged 65 and over have been higher in those living in deprived areas.

Same-sex couples in Northern Ireland who have children have been involved in discrimination and injustice. In Northern Ireland same-sex marriage is not legal unlike in England, Scotland and Wales. In 2013, 29% of people in Northern Ireland disagreed with same-sex marriage.Evidence has found that 35.3% of Lesbian, Gay Bisexual &/Transgender (LGB&/T’s) in Northern Ireland encountered self-harm whereas the remainder of the UK is lower with 13 per cent. LGB&/T people who are living in rural areas have a higher level of experiencing depression with more than 5 in every 8. In Northern Ireland, ethnic minority groups have lower rates of employment. Unemployment rates for Black groups were 12.4% while the non-ethnic groups of Northern Ireland who are of the working age were lower at 5%. In 2015, females in Northern Ireland achieved 83.4% grade C or above GCSE’s results which was higher than that of males which was 71.4%. On the contrary, men had a higher employment rate with 71.4% while the women’s was 61.9%. Mental health problems have been identified as the main reason for leave to be granted from the workplace with 39.1% related to Northern Ireland. This too demonstrates that a higher percentage of females would be encountering mental health issues as there are more males employed in work.

Northern Ireland have been recorded with the highest number of suicides with 16.4 per 100,000 population compared to the UK with 10.3 in England, 9.2 in Wales and 14.5 in Scotland. Males in Northern Ireland were reported with the highest rates of suicide in the UK with 75% in 2014. It has been recorded that male travellers have a suicide rate which is 6.6 times more than the suicide rate of males who aren’t travellers. This could be due to them suffering from mental health illnesses which went untreated. The current suicide rate of 27 per 100,000 for males is the highest since 2010. Self-harm has been recorded at its highest in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK. In 2013, 10% of self-harm medical treatment in hospitals wasfor those under the age of 18.Girls have had a higher recording of self-harm of 15.5% compared to boys with 5.1%. Girls of this age may be experiencing difficulties, for example emotional issues, which lead to stress or mental health problems which they deal with by self-harming.

According to the ‘Northern Ireland Study of Health and Stress’ over half of the people asked said they have experienced a traumatic event at some stage of their life and 32% of those who had been involved with trauma have had a mental health issue.

Social determinants may be a contributing factor to mental health disorders. Oxfam have reported that in January 2014 in Northern Ireland 32% lived in poverty along with a quarter of the population earning less than the living wage. Evidence shows that those people living in the most deprived areas are two times more likely to develop mental health problems than those who are not. In 2009 in Northern Ireland 1.47% of people were found to be homeless and this is similar to Scotland with 1.56% whereas 0.19% was in England and 0.45% in Wales. These statistics have increased each year over the five year period in Northern Ireland.

Strategies:

Investing for Health-Promoting Mental Health Strategy and Action Plan 2003 – 2008

This strategy was developed to provide help and support to sufferers of mental illnesses. They have an aim to reduce the mental problems people are experiencing and to increase the support available to the individual and their families of those with mental health issues. This includes their target to ensure that there is increased recognition of the support materials and organisations available to sufferers of mental illnesses so that they are able to achieve a reduction in the stress they could have. They also aim to decrease any injustice and discrimination towards people with mental health difficulties which may occur. They anticipate working with other organisations in the public and private sector to achieve a reduced number of people with mental health issues.

Initiatives:

CAMHS

CAMHS is an abbreviation of Child and Adolescents Mental Health Services. They provide help and support to young people aged up to eighteen and their families who are experiencing problems in their family life for example, behavioural and emotional issues concerning their wellbeing. Help can be received through consulting the child’s GP or a teacher at school for advice. Trained specialists such as psychiatrists work to overcome any difficulties through understanding the problems being faced and closely working with the young person individually and with their family. This would take place in a community environment or in selected departments of a hospital. It allows each member of the family to express their views and feelings to solve the problems affecting them.

http://www.youngminds.org.uk/for_parents/services_children_young_people/camhs/what_are_cahms

http://www.nhs.uk/nhsengland/aboutnhsservices/mental-health-services-explained/pages/about-childrens-mental-health-services.aspx

AWARE

AWARE is a charity in Northern Ireland which aims to provide support to sufferers of depression. Support groups are offered by volunteers who are trained in specific areas in relation to dealing with people with depression. They bring together other people who are suffering from a similar illness to give them a chance to talk and share their feelings and experiences.AWARE provides group sessions for all ages on problems associated with wellbeing and mindfulness. The wellbeing programmes have a number of divided groups with regards to the individual’s age. For example, the programme for young people aged between fourteen and eighteen years old gives an opportunity for them to learn more about mental health and to understand the signs of depression and emotional difficulties related to their mental health. This will provide further education on mental illnesses and problems.

Mindfulness is another group session involved in the AWARE charity. Here, people learn to deal with difficult tasks they may face on a day to day basis in a peaceful and stress free manner. This is accomplished through a form of meditation which allows a relaxation period for any worries and depressive thoughts to be overcome.

https://www.aware-ni.org/

MINDING YOUR HEAD

Minding your head is a mental health awareness initiative which provides help to people who may be suffering from poor mental health. They do this by supplying a variation of information with relation to organisations who could offer support in communities in Northern Ireland for example Action Mental Health. This could be achieved through support groups to help people to overcome their problems and difficulties associated with mental health. It also provides information on how to maintain and improve mental health to minimise the chances of illnesses regarding mental health in the future.’5 steps to wellbeing’ is an example of a resource developed through MINDING YOUR HEAD to help deal with mental health difficulties a person may be experiencing. This initiative outlines a variety of strategies and procedures to follow which could play a contributing role in a person’s mental health.

The five steps include:

  • Connect
  • Be active
  • Take notice
  • Keep learning
  • Give

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