‘Official statistics provide an indispensable element in the information system of a democratic society, serving the Government, the economy and the public with data about the economic, demographic, social and environmental situation.’
New Script for Mental Health is making publicly available, a set of mental health data sets obtained via Freedom of Information. We are doing this in the interests of transparency and accountability and the ongoing failure by the Department of Health to make mental health data sets publicly available.
The FOI responses published here cover the following topics:
- Breach analysis data
- Talking Therapy Hubs
- GP Practice Counselling Provision
- Mental Health Funding
- Mental Health Strategy
- Inspection of in-patient units
- Crisis response in hospital ED Depts
- PSNI and Ambulance Service involvement in mental health incidents
- Suicide prevention training
This data will be of interest politicians, policy makers, journalists, researchers, campaigners, community and voluntary organisations, people who use mental health services and others.
This site will be regularly updated with new FOIs, so sign up to our mailing list so as not to miss out.
Mental health data in NI is a black box, with the Department of Health and Trusts making almost no mental health data sets available publicly.
The New Decade New Approach agreement of January 2020 gave significant prominence to the commitment to ensure transparency within government, in order to rebuild the trust of citizens in the wake of the RHI scandal.
The Department of Health has a Data Strategy for NI, the vision for which is to make the Health and Social Care (HSC) ‘a data-driven organisation that improves people’s lives through the use of data’.
Yet the reality is that, apart from mental health in-patient data, and most recently, data on CAMHS, all information on mental health service provision has to be obtained under Freedom of Information.
Despite both the Office for Statistics Regulation and The Audit Office calling on the Department for Health to address the issue of mental health data, we have had no public response from the Department.
New Script for Mental Health raised this issue with the Chief Medical Officer in February 2023. His response was simply to state that Health Trusts provide the Department with monthly data, ignoring the fact that this data is not publicly available.
Despite both the Office for Statistics Regulation and The Audit Office calling on the Department for Health to address the issue of mental health data, we have had no public response from the Department. Inexplicably, the 2023-24 Delivery Plan for the Mental Health Strategy doesn’t make any reference to this issue.
The Department of Health’s award-winning Covid-19 dashboard demonstrated that the capability exists, to develop, at unprecedented speed, systems to deliver data, evidence, analysis, research and evaluation, vital to make critical decisions in relation to health services.
Covid was a major public health crisis and was responded to as such. Mental health is no less a public health crisis, with people’s lives, safety and well-being at stake. NHS England publishes monthly mental health statistics on an interactive dashboard. So we know it can be done, it just needs the will and resourcing.
The Department must firstly tell us what data sets its holds on mental health and then develop a plan to start publishing these data sets.
Call to action
If you’d like to find out more about our New Script for Mental Health Campaign, you are warmly invited to join us at Stormont on 10th October 2023. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org as places are limited.