Mental Health Champion Siobhan O'Neill calls for dual diagnoses services to tackle NI drugs crisis

Dual diagnoses services should be implemented in Northern Ireland to help tackle the drug crisis, a leading mental health expert has said.

Professor Siobhan O'Neill, Northern Ireland's Mental Health Champion, spoke to UTV as part of a news special examining the scale of the drug abuse and addiction.

There are currently "two very good strategies" in the pipeline, Prof O'Neill explained, which look at early intervention and prevention.

She said now is the time for "full implementation" of these in order to "make a huge difference".

"We need dual diagnosis services in Northern Ireland and in our mental health strategy we have a plan to implement those," said the mental health champion.

Societal attitudes towards those who are addicted to substances also needs to be addressed, says Prof O'Neill as there is a "stigma that generally exists around substance abuse".

"The reasons why people get addicted to substances, alcohol and drugs, it’s trauma, it’s mental illness, it’s suffering - very complex sets of issues.

"We require often specialist services and at the minute those services are under an extreme amount of pressure really and we need more resources pumped into those services."

She added: "We need to have some challenging conversations about how we’re going to address this as a society."

Link to article:

Speaking to UTV Up Close about recent deaths by drugs: