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GP urges improved mental health care in Northern Ireland

16 November 2007

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More needs to be done to improve mental health treatment in Northern Ireland, a GP claims.

Dr Tom Black, a GP in Derry, was giving evidence on behalf of the British Medical Association (BMA) to the Assembly’s Health Committee.

He said: “Every suicide or self harm statistic has a story, a face, a family and a legacy.

“Everybody has a role and a responsibility in supporting people with these tendencies to overcome or manage their urges.

“The issue of suicide or self harm should be part of an holistic approach to improving mental health throughout our society.

“Society in Northern Ireland needs to work very hard to stem the rising tide of suicides here.”

He added: “Evidence shows that social changes are needed to reduce the number of suicides; measures such as increasing the price of alcohol would help reduce the harm caused by excessive use of it, particularly within vulnerable groups.

“There also needs to be better communication between all HSS agencies, secondary care, primary care, community care and the voluntary sectors when dealing with suicidal or self harming patients.

“There must be greater access to talking/cognitive therapies. These are virtually non-existent in Northern Ireland and this needs to be corrected.”

British Medical Association

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