It follows the deaths of a number of people by suicide – including an 11-year-old boy- over the Christmas and New Year period.
SDLP deputy leader Nichola Mallon said any new executive must prioritise mental health.
She said “urgent action … is needed to provide people in despair with the help and hope they need”.
“Any new executive must demonstrate that this is the highest level priority,” she added.
“That’s why I think it’s necessary that we have a junior minister dedicated to improving the mental health and wellbeing of all our citizens, especially our young people who are facing unprecedented pressures in today’s world.
“People and families are crying out for help.
“We need to demonstrate that we are serious about addressing this challenge.”