One year on from the publication of the Report of the Taskforce on Youth Mental Health, a number of organisations and individuals who work with children and young people have called for the report’s recommendations to be implemented in full, to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people in Ireland and help to address Ireland’s mental health crisis.
The ISPCC, Mental Health Reform, BeLonG To Youth Services and SpunOut.ie, as well as Professor Mary Cannon (RCSI) and Dr. Tony Bates, are calling for action on the recommendations of the Taskforce, which were accepted by Government in December 2017. The specific recommendations on which action is being sought relate to advocacy, law reform, awareness, mental health supports, accessibility and alignment of services, consent issues and research.
The organisations and individuals have highlighted how children and young people have been hugely impacted by delays in access and lack of resources in mental health services in Ireland, at a time when waiting lists for mental health services in the country are at an all-time high. The recommendations contained within the Taskforce report present an opportunity to support children and young people through education, support services and legislation.
ISPCC CEO John Church said: “While the ISPCC welcomes the progress which has been made over the past year with regard to a number of the recommendations of the Taskforce on Youth Mental Health, the success of several of the recommendations are dependent on the implementation of the Youth Mental Health Pathfinder. This Pathfinder project is crucial to opening up a more collective approach to youth mental health, facilitating the working together of several key departments; Department of Health, Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Department of Education and the Department of An Taoiseach. The delay in the establishment of this initiative is a cause for concern and we are calling on Minister Donohue to take the necessary action within his Department to address any roadblocks.
“The Pathfinder project could be a hugely positive initiative with the potential to make a real difference in responding to issues of youth mental health. It is imperative that Pathfinder be established as a matter of priority in order to facilitate progress with further significant recommendations of the Taskforce, including that a National Lead for Youth Mental Health and a lead for Youth Mental Health for each Community Health Organisation (CHO) be appointed, that a national youth advocacy service be established and that focused research in the area of youth mental health be conducted.”
Director of Mental Health Reform, Shari McDaid, said, “The Government has been working for over three and a half years on drafting new legislation to update Ireland’s mental health law, which is seriously out of compliance with international human rights standards. One area of particular concern is that the current Mental Health Act, 2001, does not allow for young people, aged 16-17 years old, to have the right to consent to treatment for their mental health. For many years, young people aged 16-17 years old have had the right to consent to treatment for their physical health, but not their mental health.
“Young people deserve to have more choice and control over their own mental health treatment. The Government needs to urgently bring forward the new legislation, in line with Taskforce recommendations, so that young people can feel safe and supported accessing the mental health supports they need, when they need them.” Dr. McDaid concluded.
About Youth Mental Health Pathfinder
The Youth Mental Health Pathfinder is an inter-departmental initiative. It is a project that is an internal process designed to effectively collaborate across departments on an issue that spans more than one department, i.e. youth mental health. The Government picked this topic to be one of the three-high-profile pathfinder projects at the heart of its Civil Service renewal Plan (2014). One of the asks of the Youth Mental Health Pathfinder project was to try and effectively embed a new model of cross-government working using Section 12 of the Public Service Management Act 1997.
Any child or young person in Ireland, who would like to talk about any issue on their mind, can contact:
- Childline – Ireland’s national 24-hour listening service for children and young people. Call 1800 66 66 66 (24 hours a day), text to 50101, chat online at Childline.ie
- BeLonG To – BeLonG To provides free youth groups, one-to-one support and advice for LGBTI+ young people. Visit: Belongto.org
- Jigsaw – Jigsaw is a free mental health service which provides face-to-face support for young people. Visit: Jigsaw.ie
- Pieta House – Pieta is a free support service providing face-to-face counselling and phone support to people who are thinking about suicide, or who are self-harming. Call: 1800 247 247. Visit: Pieta.ie.