Kieran McCarthy MLA said: “It is to be welcomed that the Assembly debated the issue of an international mental health centre for Northern Ireland, even though the proposal is not fully developed.
“Alliance does believe that we must invest more in mental health services across the board given the large amount of people in Northern Ireland who have experienced trauma.
“However, there are questions over this proposal such as whether it is better to create a dedicated trauma centre versus better mainstreaming and integration of trauma services through the existing mental health provision. There is already a trauma unit within each of the Trusts.
“The proposal is light on detail, such as how this would be an international centre? Would it be a residential centre? Would it look to heal the physical aspects of trauma? I also wonder what discussions the UUP have had with relevant groups and experts.
“There are risks that the use of a such a centre could inadvertently introduce ‘labelling’ and therefore reinforce the stigma of some of those with mental health conditions. The location and character of any building will also be critical, so I doubt the nature of Ormiston House will convey the right atmosphere.
“I am slightly concerned at the way the UUP have presented this as an alternative to the Maze peace centre. This should not be framed as a choice between the two. There could and perhaps should be room for both.
“This proposal is not new, so I wonder why the UUP’s Michael McGimpsey when he was Health Minister between 2007 and 2011, did not take action on this idea.”