Call for action over self-harm problem

08 October 2004 - Belfast Telegraph

SDLP councillor Pat Convery has called for a holistic approach, involving statutory agencies and community-based bodies, to helping people suffering from depression or at risk of self-harm.

He said: "The problem of depression and the potential for self-harm is growing, and we need to move fast to design suitable, effective responses.

"There are many different contributory factors: for example, I have had approaches from people under pressure from bullying, racism, punishment beatings, threats, intimidation and forced evictions.

"All these can have an adverse effect and drive people into situations where they feel trapped."

Mr Convery said the first principle must be that all services and responses must be at the disposal of all those who need them.

"It is important that those at risk should feel that they are welcome to access all support channels.

"Young people who may have got on the wrong side of tightly knit communities may well feel that the people they have to approach for help are the very people they have had problems with. Premises offering support must be neutral, safe and secure, and there needs to be close partnership between community-based responses and statutory agencies to ensure that services are provided in a neutral, non-judgemental, professional way.

"We need more hospital beds for people suffering depression and in danger of self-harm, and that means more funding."