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  • Writer's pictureLove Ballymena

Autism NI highlights need for a specialist autism mental health service

Men and women gathered on the steps of Stormont Parliament Buildings

Autism NI, along with local professionals and guest speakers, met at Stormont on 25th September 2023 to highlight the urgent need of a specialist autism mental health service in Northern Ireland.

With recent figures showing that autistic adults are nine times more likely to die from suicide and autistic children twenty times more likely to self-harm, the Charity is pressing for mental health professionals to be trained in autism, offering tailored support strategies that work for autistic people.

Autism NI CEO Kerry Boyd said:

“These figures are staggering, and it is imperative that there is an introduction of a specialist autism mental health service in Northern Ireland now, to provide better services that are well-equipped in supporting autistic people.

"There is currently no mandatory autism training for mental health professionals. Training is key to ensure that appropriate adjustments are made for each autistic person, and to ensure that our mental health service is person-centred, adapting treatment and care at every point throughout a person’s journey.

It is vital that autistic people and their families get the same access to mental health support as everyone else, and mental healthcare professionals are equipped to work collaboratively with autistic people.”

Guest speakers from the event included Dr James Cusack, CEO of Autistica UK, Professor Siobhan O’Neill, Mental Health Champion for Northern Ireland, Chair of the All Party Group on Autism, Pam Cameron MLA, Kerry Boyd, CEO of Autism NI, and Kathy Barenskie, an autistic adult.

As a local charity, Autism NI provides vital services for over 35,000 autistic people and their families throughout Northern Ireland, and campaigns for autism acceptance within society.

To find out more or for further information please call 028 9040 1729 or visit


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