Northern Ireland

Policy agenda

Our agenda for mental health in Northern Ireland is outlined in our blog, which was published to coincide with the first Mental Health Summit.  

Ahead of the Stormont elections in May 2016, the Foundation published a public mental health analysis of the parties’ manifestos. Our analysis focused on: communities, employment, housing and homelessness, long term conditions and children and young people (particularly those who are vulnerable and excluded), which are the prioritized policies with our Mental Health in All Policies programme.

Fundamental Facts

Mental Health Foundation's Fundamental Facts provides a range of illustrative statistics on all aspects of mental health. We now have a Fundamental Facts for Northern Ireland produced by our Research team.

Winston Churchill Memorial Trust

We are partnering with the Winston Churchill Memorial Trusts in its awards of community mental health Travel Fellowships. The three years of Fellowships 2016-2018 have been awarded including to people in Northern Ireland.


The Mental Health Foundation partnered with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland to produce its Mental Health Work Place Charter. The Charter was launched at the All Party Working Group on Mental Health in Stormont in October 2016. It is a voluntary commitment by employers that indicates their willingness to create workplaces that support people who experience mental distress. 

The five charter commitments provide a framework for working towards mentally healthy workplaces:

  1. To create an open and inclusive workplace culture which displays respect for those with mental ill health.
  2. To promote equality of opportunity and challenge discrimination in the workplace.
  3. To promote equality of opportunity in recruitment and selection for those with mental ill health. 
  4. To identify and provide sources of information and support regarding mental ill health.
  5. To adopt 'Every Customer Counts - promoting accessible services' recommendations.  

More information on the Charter

Maternal mental health

We advocate for the prioritisation of maternal mental health in Northern Ireland as outlined in our blog. As a member of the Maternal Mental Health Alliance, the Foundation calls for the implementation in Northern Ireland of the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence’s (NICE) standards for perinatal care. This advocacy is based on the Northern Ireland Maternal Mental Alliance’s briefing on maternal mental health. It is supported by the Everyone’s Business campaign, which has highlighted that 80% of women in Northern Ireland do not have access to NICE standards of mental health care.

Its Everyone's Business Economic Report found that by investing £400 per normal birth a conservative estimate of £10,000 would be saved through costs to the public sector (including health, social services, education and criminal justice) and wider society (including lower educational achievement and lost employment). Informed by the Foundation’s maternal mental health innovation programme, we promote the development of peer support and self-management for mothers and fathers.

Mental Health Awareness Week

We run Mental Health Awareness Week (MHAW) across the UK in May each year. To be the first to know about Mental Health Awareness Week 2017, follow us on Twitter at @mentalhealth or sign up to our MHAW mailing list.

The theme for 2016 was relationships and it was celebrated at numerous events in Northern Ireland. The Foundation contributed to the Northern Ireland Mental Health Arts and Film Festival, with programming from our Scottish Mental Health Arts and Film Festival.

Participatory arts for older people

Commissioned by Kaleidoscope, a creative arts production company based in Belfast, the Foundation evaluated the impact of Acting Up both the participants and the wider community. Kaleidoscope’s Outreach Department creates opportunities for adults to participate in the arts. Their leading project is Acting Up, a unique performing arts programme for older adults. Acting Up helps older adults to fulfill their dreams of performing on stage enabling them to explore their creativity, develop new skills, make new friends and embrace a fresh challenge in their lives.

Acting Up has been delivered very successfully in Northern Ireland and Kaleidoscope are now embarking on the development of a pilot roll-out programme to take Acting Up to the rest of the UK funded by the Big Lottery. The aim is to make the Acting Up project available to older adults and older adult groups across the UK through training, support materials and resources. The evaluation was informed by our landmark report on participatory arts and older people.

Mental capacity

We partnered on a study into the compliance of UK mental capacity legislation with the United Nations Disability Convention. This includes the Mental Health (Northern Ireland) Order 1986 and the Mental Capacity Act. Professor Wayne Martin, Director of the Essex Autonomy Project led the study; and the Northern Ireland Human Rights Commission was a member of the research team.