An Evaluation of Mental Health Service Provision in Northern Ireland

Lorna Montgomery, George Wilson, Stanley Houston, Gavin Davidson, Colin Harper

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Citations (Scopus)
1995 Downloads (Pure)


Although Northern Ireland has high levels of mental health problems, there has been a relative lack of systematic research on mental health services that can provide an evidence base for legal, policy and service developments. This article aims to provide a review of the central issues relating to mental health service provision in Northern Ireland, and to gather the perceptions of different stakeholders of these services. The study utilised in-depth qualitative interviews, focus groups and an on-line survey to collect data from respondents throughout the region. This method involved the completion of semi-structured interviews with significant mental health commissioners and senior managers, and with service-users and their key workers. Focus groups sessions were also completed with mental health professionals, service-users and carers. Data collection occurred between December 2014 and June 2015. Thematic analysis was used to identify key issues. The findings identified that considerable progress had been made in the development of mental health services in the last decade, but also highlighted the significant limitations in current services. Most notably, strengths in provision included the transition from long-stay hospital care to community-based services and person-centred approaches. The researchers identified the need to improve funding, address problems with fragmentation and gaps in service provision. Based on these findings, the authors consider the implications for practice and policy relating to the human and organisational aspects of service development. In particular, services should be developed focusing on a recovery ethos and on person-centred and relationship-based approaches. The needs of carers should additionally be considered and programmes developed to tackle stigma.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)105-114
Number of pages10
JournalHealth and Social Care in the Community
Issue number1
Early online date19 Jul 2018
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


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