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Poots welcomes evaluation report on promoting mental health and suicide prevention amongst community networks

Health Minister Edwin Poots has today jointly launched with Department of Agriculture and Rural Development (DARD) an evaluation report endorsing the Community Network’s model for promoting mental health and suicide prevention in the Northern Area.
Wednesday, 14 November 2012

The report launched today at CAFRE Greenmount Campus, Antrim has built on work already being implemented through the ‘Protect Life Strategy’ which highlights the need for strong community action in promoting good mental health, raising awareness of suicide, and reducing stigma for those who may need to seek help. It focuses on providing rural dwellers with access to community based physical and mental health checks, including signposting to advice services on mental health related issues.

Commenting at the launch the Health Minister said: “The partnership approach developed by the Public Health Agency and the four community networks in the Northern Area is clearly helping to deliver real change. The evaluation findings show that mental health promotion and suicide prevention are being brought right to the heart of local communities.”

The evaluation report assesses the impact of the Northern Area Community Based “Promoting Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Small Grants Scheme” and the contribution of the Public Health Agency funded Suicide Prevention Development Officers

Acknowledging the work of the community networks the Minister went on to say: “The rural community networks who dedicate their time to improve mental wellbeing and reducing suicide must be commended. Communities are best placed to know what their issues and challenges are. Rural communities face specific challenges in maintaining positive mental health and the Network, through tackling issues such as social isolation, are addressing these challenges.”

Highlighting the benefits of the community action and partnerships working DARD Minister Michelle O’Neill commented: “I fully support cross Departmental initiatives where we can make the best use of all of the expertise that government and statutory bodies have. I welcome the collaborative work of the Rural Support Networks in identifying and responding to the needs of our rural communities particularly in relation to mental health and suicide prevention. A key priority for my Department is to address some of the root causes of mental health issues in rural areas such as social isolation and poverty. This is an issue that touches all of us and we need to continue to work together to ensure that the momentum is maintained.”

Dr Eddie Rooney, Chief Executive, PHA said: “The Public Health Agency has a lead role in improving health and wellbeing, and reducing health inequalities. Central to achieving this is the empowerment of individuals and communities to take positive action to improve their mental health and emotional wellbeing.

“By working closely with communities, we can target people who need advice and support, ensuring that assistance is there for those who need it. This requires a very strong community-development focus, and the PHA is committed to strengthening the excellent work that has been developed in the Northern area to promote mental health and reduce suicide.”

Today’s event at Greenmount College was attended by a range of community group representatives, government delegates, PHA and Health Board officials and suicide prevention development workers who help local communities avail of the “Small Grants” programme to deliver suicide prevention services.

Notes to editors:

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