08 Dec 2021

Foyle MLA: Wellbeing drop shows society needs a lift

Anxiety and loneliness has increased says SDLP Covid Spokesperson McLaughlin

Sinead McLaughlin

Foyle MLA Sinead McLaughlin: "We risk our current mental health crisis getting even worse."

SDLP Executive Office Chairperson Sinéad McLaughlin has said a drop in people’s wellbeing shows the need to rebuild society following the coronavirus pandemic.

The Foyle MLA was speaking after the publishing of the Executive Office’s Wellbeing in Northern Ireland Report 2020/21.

Life satisfaction, happiness, anxiety and loneliness measures showed a significant decline in wellbeing over the past year, while women have reported significantly lower levels of wellbeing than men.

Ms McLaughlin, who is also the SDLP’s spokesperson on Covid-19 recovery, said: “This report highlights how people in the North have been feeling over the past year.

“It’s extremely concerning that people are reporting lower life satisfaction and happiness, while anxiety and loneliness have increased significantly. Women are also reporting significantly lower levels of wellbeing than men.

“These figures are hardly surprising considering what people here have been through over the past year. From the onset of the coronavirus pandemic people’s lives have been changed dramatically.

“For months people were cut off from friends and families with many working from home and having less interaction with others on a day to day basis.

“The pandemic has exacerbated the already high levels of mental health issues in the North.

“As we emerge from the restrictions of the last year and a half we must now deal with the effects they have had on people, or we risk our current mental health crisis getting even worse.

“We need to see the Department of Health follow through with it’s mental health strategy with the Finance Minister ensuring it is properly funded.

“We must also see an overall Covid-19 recovery plan from the Executive Office to address the issues raised, including society’s gender imbalance. We need to see our recovery plan prioritised, it can’t be allowed to fall by the wayside like so many before it.

“The pandemic has afforded us with an opportunity to reshape things and build a better society than we had before its onset.

We cannot allow it to be squandered by the lack of vision and planning from the joint First Ministers that has plagued our approach to the pandemic so far.”

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