Call for mental health issues to be addressed

Katherine McCloskey.
Katherine McCloskey.

A Glengormley woman recently addressed a hard hitting issue during a series of presentations at a prestigious conference.

Katherine McCloskey (30) discussed the topic of mental health provision in the criminal justice system during the Future Leaders Connect event in London.

Through the initiative, the British Council aims to identify exceptional individuals (aged 18-35) who have the potential to be future leaders of their countries in the fields of politics and policy and who will be amongst the shapers of global policy making in the years ahead.

As part of the programme, participants discussed major global policy issues in the Houses of Parliament, engaged with inspiring leaders, visited some of the UK’s leading global institutions and collaborated to produce innovative policy recommendations.

Katherine recently celebrated her first year with Northern Ireland Association for the Care and Resettlement of Offenders as their public affairs and policy coordinator.

Commenting on the issues explored in her presentation, she said: “Mental health provision is an issue that needs to be prioritised in terms of resources made available for treatment and support as well ensuring the stigma around mental health is removed. Many who experience the criminal justice system also experience mental ill health.

“At all stages in the process, it’s critical that those in need of support and diversion are provided with the correct support for their mental health needs using an early intervention model.

“Locally, it’s important there is support for those within the criminal justice system who are living with mental ill health at the earliest possible point.

“ I want to see a commitment from political leaders and decision makers to give public leadership to the concerns raised by advocacy groups, relatives and those in prison, starting with the establishment of a panel of experts to review existing arrangements for supporting vulnerable prisoners.”