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Health Minister Robin Swann has given further details of a £10million mental health fund providing support to mental health charities.

The grant scheme, entitled the Mental Health Support Fund, will be administered and managed by Community Foundation NI, and will be open to community and voluntary sector organisations with charitable purposes offering services for people with mental ill health throughout Northern Ireland.

Mental health charities and groups will be invited to submit proposals on key themes, all which are linked to improving the mental health and emotional wellbeing of the population. These include talking therapies, interventions which reduce pressures on mental health acute in-patient facilities for adults and children, advocacy and peer support work, and capacity building and sustainability in the delivery of mental health interventions and projects.

These interventions are key supports to tackling mental ill health as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and will strengthen the person centred care approach in the new ten-year Mental Health Strategy.

In launching the scheme, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “I remain committed to supporting everyone’s mental health and wellbeing and doing everything possible to help ensure that those who need help, get help. I am incredibly conscious of the impact the pandemic has had on people’s mental health and wellbeing.

“Our local charity sector provides important and vital mental health support services to many in our communities. It is important that those services are maintained, particularly during these challenging times.

“The new Mental Health Support Fund will equip and enable these charities in providing a wide range of support services for people with mental ill health and help to ensure that those who need to can continue to access mental health support services in the community.”

The allocation has been funded from Covid emergency monies made available to the Department of Health. The Mental Health Support Fund is expected to formally open within the next few months and will be accessible through the Community Foundation website.

Commenting on the Fund, Síofra Healy, Director of Philanthropy at the Foundation said: “Through our work and grant giving in Northern Ireland we are seeing huge need and increased demand for funding of mental health services provided by charities and community groups. Communities are telling us that as a result of the pandemic, the issues have been exacerbated and it is vital that we act now.

“We’re pleased that the department is prioritising this issue and including capacity support for the charities that continue to deliver these services and are often the backbone of support for people who need mental health support. We will work with charities large and small within our community and across NI to ensure this funding reaches and addresses the needs identified.”

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