Addiction and Mental Health services need to be aligned as we emerge from COVID-19 - Flynn
Órlaithí Flynn MLA has praised the flexibility of the addiction community and voluntary groups in responding to COVID-19.
The inescapable rise in demand for services was heard loud and clear by the health committee.
Speaking after an evidence session involving members of the NI Alcohol and Drug Alliance, the Sinn Féin spokesperson for Mental Health said:
“Addiction services were already under increased strain before the lockdown and after hearing from organisations on the frontline it is clear that demand is rising still.
"Many of the services have had to change and, in some cases, close their doors due to the nature of the lockdown but the needs of some of the most vulnerable service users do not disappear.
"It is clear the most deprived communities have higher rates of addictions and mental health conditions. Now is the time for the Department of Health to address the issue of dual diagnosis.
“Dual diagnosis is where an individual's mental health condition and addiction are interlinked but services are not equipped to responding to address this complex situation.
“The evidence we heard was that the level of cooperation and communication with councils, the Public Health Agency and the PSNI has been good during this crisis.
“This needs to continue and be enhanced as we the lockdown eases.
“I was heartened to hear that the organisations and their staff were eager to get back to fully supporting their services users but they will need the support and resources to do this.”