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A Shared Island Perspective on Mental Health

Mental health is an increasingly important concern in both Ireland and Northern Ireland. The pandemic has had significant impacts, which are likely to be a long-lasting, on mental health issues for many different groups in society.

A new Secretariat Report ‘A Shared Island Perspective on Mental Health’ argues that  the pandemic has  shown  that there is scope for development, and much value to be found, in increased cross-border co-operation. It highlights that many aspects of mental health services and promotion are well-suited to cross-border working. These include the provision of on-line supports, mental health promotion, and training and education. Both jurisdictions have recently published mental health policies and there is potential for greater collaboration on shared concerns, building on existing cooperation on health across the border.

This report, written by NESC Policy Analyst Jenny Andersson, gives an overview of the policy landscape North and South. It highlights examples of areas where co-operation already exists, often led by the community and voluntary sector.  The report suggests  areas that could be further developed, such as in the use of different types of online supports, the streamlining of data collection for the purpose of sharing information and learning, and the development of further settings or structures to promote co-operation in the mental health field. Another suggestion is to consider the appointment of a Mental Health Champion in Ireland, following the example of Northern Ireland.  It is suggested that such a position could potentially help promote co-operation between the two jurisdictions.

The author of the report said ‘Our discussions with stakeholders during the preparation of this paper have made it clear that north-south co-operation is seen as positive and desirable. It is an opportunity to build on existing projects and to look new areas of co-operation.’

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Note to Editors

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This paper is published as part NESC’s ongoing Programme of Research on the Shared Island Initiative. NESC is undertaking this work at the request of the Department of the Taoiseach to produce a comprehensive report on the Shared Island in 2022.

The NESC research will contribute to building a shared knowledge base and understanding about possible ways in which greater co-operation can emerge across a number of economic, social and environmental areas in Ireland, North and South, and also between these islands, East and West. The research will not address the constitutional question, but will focus on sustainable economic, social and environmental development issues in line with NESC’s strategic remit.