The Ulster Unionist Party has become the first local political party to appoint a dedicated spokesperson on Mental Health. Robbie Butler, MLA for Lagan Valley, will work in support of Ulster Unionist Health spokesperson, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA, to ensure Northern Ireland’s appalling rates of poor mental health and wellbeing are recognised and addressed.
Party Leader, Mike Nesbitt MLA, said:
“I would like us to be world leaders in tackling poor mental health. It is an unfortunate fact that we already lead the world in terms of our per capita rates of poor mental health and fixing the problem offers a triple win. It would address one of the most toxic legacies of the Troubles. It would help those who are trapped on benefits to find a more fulfilling life, and by making people economically active, it would help rebalance the economy.
“We published a fifteen point plan for improving mental health and wellbeing during the recent election campaign. Robbie will bring a focus on encouraging delivery on that plan during the course of this mandate.”
Robbie Butler MLA said:
“It is with immense pride that I have been appointed as the first Mental Health spokesperson by the Ulster Unionist Party and the Stormont Assembly.
“Mental Health issues currently directly affect 28.5% of our population, never mind the impact on families, friends and associates. There can be no hiding from the fact that as a country, we suffer among the worst rates of poor mental health and wellbeing on the planet. I believe a new approach is required and we have laid out the foundations in our action plan, which was very favourably received by sufferers, practitioners and mental health charities.
“I believe that Mental Health and Wellbeing should be a priority for the new Health Minister and I shall work with our Health spokesperson, Jo-Anne Dobson, to ensure the profile of mental health is given the priority it deserves, and that the health budget reflects the need to accept mental health should be on a par with physical health issues.”
Ulster Unionist Health spokesperson, Jo-Anne Dobson MLA said:
“I am honoured to be reappointed as my Party's Health spokesperson and delighted to welcome Robbie to his important role and look forward to working with him to deliver better recognition and services for mental health and wellbeing.
“The common experience of every candidate on the canvass for the recent elections was that health was far and away the most important concern amongst our people.
“As Health spokesperson I commit to once again putting patients first and fighting to lower the spiralling waiting times, raise outcomes for cancer patients and continue to promote Organ Donation. Just as we have with three successive Health Ministers we will scrutinise and constructively criticise Michelle O’Neill in her new, critical role as Northern Ireland’s Health Minister.”