#123GP campaign coverage
Enquiries continued into a £7m increase in NI's spend on antidepressants, to more than £18 million. A range of authorities drew attention to the shortage of counselling services. "There is a clear connection between, on the one hand, the exponential rise in prescribing rates for anti-depressants, and on the other, the ongoing failure to adequately resource counselling as an effective treatment option for mental health," said PPR's Sara Boyce, as the #123GP campaign continued to call for equal access to counselling for everyone.
The Mental Health Foundation's Mental Health in the Pandemic study, with the participation of Queens University Belfast, issued new findings a year on from the announcement of lockdown. It found that while anxiety declined, the incidence of other types of mental ill health increased, with young adults, unemployed people, full-time students, single parents and those with long term physical and mental health issues amongst those most affected.
Meanwhile a NI survey by Parentkind, the UK's largest network of parent teacher associations, found that parents here were much more likely than those in England to report their mental health and wellbeing had been harmed by the disruption to their children's education caused by the pandemic. The Education and Training Inspectorate (ETI) reported on a range of negative impacts that the 2020 lockdowns and periods of remote learning have had on children in NI, including mental health and related areas like social development. The reports also flagged concerns about impacts on teachers and school staff, and about economic and other pressures affecting families.
NI Health Minister Robin Swann told a Fermanagh newspaper that it was “undeniable that mental health services in Northern Ireland have been underfunded and this is something I hope to address”. He added, “there is a recognised need to improve mental health service provisions”.