Promoting mental health in Northern Ireland: addressing division, inequality and stigma

Gavin Davidson, Gerry Leavey

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

6 Citations (Scopus)

Abstract

This article provides an overview of the literature on the impact of ‘the Troubles’ on mental health in Nor thern Ireland. It identifies three main phases of professional and policy response from concerns about the effects of the violence in the early 1970s, through many years of collective denial and neglect, until acknowledgment, following the Good Friday Agreement in 1998 (Nor thern Ireland Office, 1998), of high levels of trauma and unmet need. The issues of inequality and stigma are also considered and it is argued that peace is necessary but insufficient for promoting mental health. The development of mental health services in Nor thern Ireland and the relatively recent focus on promoting mental health are also outlined and examined. It is suggested that attempts to address the needs arising as a result of ‘the Troubles’ and more general mental health promotion strategies have, to some extent, developed in parallel and that it may be impor tant to integrate these effor ts. The relative under-development of mental health services, the comprehensive Bamford Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability (2005; 2006) and the positive approach of the Public Health Agency mean that, even in the current economic climate, there are great oppor tunities for progress. Routine screening, in primary care and mental health services for trauma, including Troubles-related trauma, is recommended to identify and address these issues on an individual level. It is also argued, however, that more substantial political change is needed to effectively address societal division, inequality and stigma to the benefit of all.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6-15
JournalJournal of Public Mental Health
Volume9
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2010

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