The British Association for Counselling and Psychotherapy (BACP) is proud to support PPR’s 123GP campaign to improve access to counselling across Northern Ireland and it is pleased to note that the “Consensus on Counselling” has achieved strong cross-party support.
We particularly applaud the powerful advocacy by the campaigners themselves, drawing on their own painful experiences of emotional distress and as families bereaved by suicide. Their accounts of the difficulties navigating an unequal and inconsistent mental health system highlights very well that change is needed to prevent vulnerable individuals and families missing out on the support and help they need.
BACP has long supported this important campaign and is pleased to add its voice to this strong consensus statement, which comes at such an important time for mental health in Northern Ireland, as we move towards the end of the pandemic and at the advent of the new ten-year Mental Health Strategy.
1,600 BACP members across Northern Ireland play a critical role in providing life-changing counselling and psychotherapy, across a range of settings. There is a ready-made, under deployed workforce willing and able to support even more people. Investment needs to be in place to ensure equal access to high quality support everywhere, ending the postcode lottery.
This new mental health strategy provides a once in a lifetime opportunity to address the long-standing under-investment in mental health, where only 5.3% of the current health budget is directed towards mental health compared with 12% in England. We would like the final strategy to include a firm commitment to extending counselling support across GP settings throughout Northern Ireland, ensuring easy access so people can get the help they need, when they need it.
We know from experience that counselling changes lives. Please support this important campaign.
Steve Mulligan joined BACP in October 2017 to lead their policy, public affairs work and campaign work across Northern Ireland, Scotland, Wales and Devolved England. Steve has spent much of his career over the past two decades influencing political change across each of the parliaments and assemblies of the UK. He has focussed on tackling the inherent policy failures that often fall between the cracks – from improving life changing access to counselling, to tackling economic loss, addressing inequality and ending environmental degradation, to supporting people to access life-changing educational and employment opportunities.