I welcome everyone to the first meeting of this sub-committee. I am honoured to take the Chair. We all know that addressing mental health issues has taken on huge importance in these very challenging times, particularly in the context of Covid-19. The UN has warned that the Covid-19 pandemic risks sparking a major global mental health crisis, and it has reported higher than usual levels of symptoms of depression and anxiety across all groups.
To address our work programme, it is planned that we will meet over the next six months and report back to the Joint Committee on Health with our findings and recommendations for tackling the concerns that come to the fore during our consultations with a wide range of stakeholders. Over the coming weeks we will focus on access and continuity of care, looking at the whole spectrum of mental health care, from prevention and early intervention, to acute treatment. We begin today with the community and voluntary sector, and over the coming weeks we will examine delivery at primary care and at acute care levels, including in psychiatric hospitals. That will allow us to examine the plans of Government to meet the growing demand and to deliver services based on the Sharing the Vision policy which was published earlier this year. It is clear that we much work to do going forward.
I am glad to say we are being joined by Ms Fiona Coyle and Mr. Ray Burke from Mental Health Reform today. Do any members have any issues they wish to raise before we introduce the witnesses? No. We shall proceed.