Fourth meeting of Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Group

Date published: 03 March 2021

The fourth meeting of the Executive Working Group on Mental Wellbeing, Resilience and Suicide Prevention took place today by videoconference.

The Group coordinates and strengthens the approach to dealing with mental health issues and suicide prevention.

Speaking following the meeting, Minister Swann said “We continue to closely monitor the impact of the pandemic on suicide and mental health and wellbeing. While suicide rates have not shown any increase during the pandemic period, I want to reassure people that services continue to be available for anyone in distress or despair.

“Today also provided an opportunity for members to hear about the development of the new Substance Use Strategy. Ministers have previously discussed the close linkages between this Strategy and emotional health and wellbeing and mental health. Preventing harm from substance use and empowering recovery will also benefit our work on mental health and suicide prevention.”

During the meeting, Ministers gave updates on progress on the Protect Life 2 action plan by their respective departments.  Ministers also noted progress to support children and young people through the Education Restart programme and publication of the new Emotional Health and Wellbeing Framework. Department for Communities also highlighted wide ranging work with frontline staff to support those presenting with mental health issues and also through work coaches in jobs and benefits offices to assist those with physical and mental health conditions.

The Public Health Agency delivered a presentation to members on a new innovative initiative titled Relink. This project aims to improve the health and wellbeing of everyone using the Westlink and M2 bridges through rejuvenation and animation of its footbridges.

Speaking about the initiative, Infrastructure Minister Nichola Mallon said: “Mental health and well-being are extremely important to me, both personally and as Minister, and to my Department. I continue to work in partnership with Executive colleagues, local communities, experts, stakeholders and frontline staff to consider positive actions that my Department can take, as our infrastructure has an important role to play in supporting mental well-being.

“Active travel such as walking and cycling, increasing our ‘green’ infrastructure through the creation of more greenways and green spaces and increasing our ‘blue’ infrastructure through our waterways and rivers are all shown to have a role to play in improving mental well-being.

“The £20m Blue/Green Infrastructure Fund that I announced in June this year will help support the transformation of our communities by shaping places for people to live more healthily in what will become the new normal.  This in turn will help improve mental wellbeing by promoting active travel, improving air quality, and strengthening social cohesion and connectivity.”

Lifeline is available 24 hours per day, every day of the year for anyone in distress or despair – 08088088000

Notes to editors: 

  1. The Executive Working Group on Mental Wellbeing, Resilience and Suicide will meet on a quarterly basis. The next meeting is expected to take place in June 2021.
  2. All Ministers are represented on the Working Group.
  3. The Group will monitor and report on progress of relevant departmental actions.
  4. The Group will also examine wider progress in relation to the implementation of the Protect Life 2 Strategy.
  5. For media queries please contact DoH Press Office by email:
  6. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt
  7. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The Duty Press Officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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