Mental Health budgets and training at the Northern Ireland Assembly

Information Standards Freedom of Information Response

Our Ref: FoI 07-19

26th March 2019

Freedom of Information Act 2000

I can confirm that the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission holds some of the information relevant to your request of 22nd February 2019. In your request you asked for the following information:

"1. Between 2010 and 2019, what has been the yearly budget for mental health services in the Northern Ireland Assembly made available for MLA's and NI Assembly Secretariat staff. These services would include, but not limited to, items such as salary for counsellors, marketing and advertising for mental health provisions, workshops, and other relevant mental health expenditure. Can this information be provided on a spreadsheet that shows the year, the year's budget, and the categories of expenditure eg salary, marketing, etc etc."

The attached spreadsheet, Appendix A, shows the breakdown of expenditure on mental health services for Secretariat Staff by calendar year. This includes training courses, information sessions and online learning.

MLA's and Secretariat Staff have access to Inspire, the company contracted to provide the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission Employee Assistance Programme (formerly Carecall). Inspire provides a professional and confidential counselling service. Inspire provides a telephone or online counselling service, and can provide up to 6 sessions per year of professional face to face counselling at no cost to the individual. Costs of the service are included but it is not possible to break this down between MLAs, their staff, and Secretariat Staff.


"2. Between 2010 and 2019, how many Secretariat staff were working within the mental health service in Northern Ireland Assembly. Can this be broken down by year by occupation on a spreadsheet eg 2011 three counsellors, two PAs, etc etc."

There are no members of Secretariat Staff employed specifically within mental health services in the Northern Ireland Assembly. However, there are currently 19 members of Secretariat Staff who have been trained as Mental Health First Aiders (MHFA). The role of a MHFA is to provide initial support, confidential advice and guidance to those who feel they are experiencing a mental health crisis, and signpost accordingly towards appropriate professional help.


"3. Is the Northern Ireland Assembly aware of the mental health support provided by political parties and could it disclose what the arrangements for each elected party are? For example, Labour providing weekly counselling for MLA's or Green Party investing in mental health workshops? If this cannot be answered, could you instead provide me with information explaining how many MLA's have taken time off due to mental health reasons between 2010 and 2019?"

This information is not held by the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission.


"4. Between 2010 and 2019, how many MLA's and Secretariat staff were enrolled on any mental health support provided by Northern Ireland Assembly?"

The attached spreadsheet, Appendix A, shows the numbers of Secretariat Staff who attended training courses, information sessions, and online learning during the period.

We do not hold records of the number of MLAs or Secretariat staff who have used Inspire (the Employee Assistance Program), as it is a confidential service.


If you feel that the information we have provided does not meet your request fully, please contact this office as soon as possible. You have the right to request a formal review by the Northern Ireland Assembly Commission and if you wish to do so, please write to me at the above address.

If after such an internal review you are still unhappy with the response, you have the right to appeal to the Information Commissioner's Office, Wycliffe House, Water Lane, Wilmslow, Cheshire SK9 5AF who will undertake an independent review.

If you have any queries about this letter, please contact me. Please remember to quote the reference number above.

Yours sincerely



Appendix A

Training related to Mental Health Support

Year Training TypeNumber of AttendeesCost 
2012 Training Course  13 These courses were provided under a contract.  It is not possible to isolate costs for these particular courses.
2013 Information Session 33
2013 Training Course  73
2013 Training Course  13
2014 Conference 1 £35.00
2015 Information Session 18 £0.00
2015 Information Session 19 £247.50
2015 Information Session 16 £247.50
2015 Information Session 10 £350.00
2015 Training Course  10 £525.00
2016 Information Session 12 £247.50
2016 Training Course  1 £175.00
2016 Information Session 19 £575.00
2016 Training Course  34 £3,500.00
2016 Training Course  1 £0.00
2016 Information Session 16 £700.00
2017 Information Session 11 £350.00
2017 Information Session 53 £2,300.00
2017 Training Course  18 £2,460.00
2017 Training Course  49 £1,725.00
2017 Information Session 12 £500.00
2017 Information Session 22 £350.00
2017 Information Session 24 £500.00
2017 Conference 1 £150.00
2017 Training Course  1 £0.00
2017 Training Course  14 £350.00
2018 Training Course  9 £450.00
2018 Information Session 22 £0.00
2018 Information Session 8 £0.00
2018 Training Course  16 £0.00
2018 Training Course  1 £0.00
2019 Information Session 14 £350.00


Online Learning 2017 - 19

Number of Staff who completed online learning 47
Total Cost £705.00


Employee Assistance Programme (Inspire formerly Carecall)

2010 £2,472.00
2011 £3,349.50
2012 £3,420.00
2013 £4,275.00
2014 £2,475.00
2015 £2,430.00
2016 £3,960.00
2017 £2,025.00
2018 £1,960.00
2019 £55.00
Total Cost £26,421.50

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