Children 'experiencing more stress' in recession

There has been a 30% increase in the number of children seeking treatment for mental health issues in the last two years, experts said.

Organisers of this year’s National Mental Healthcare Conference said some frontline clinics see the recession has caused a surge in children suffering from social dysfunction, withdrawal, and depression.

Chairman Dr Ian Gargan said the economic collapse has considerably increased stress in the home, impacting on parental relationships and in turn on their children.

“In a recession, the stress experienced by children tends to increase significantly and we’re certainly now seeing a corresponding escalation in those experiencing stress and mental health issues and coming in to avail of services,” he said.

“At our clinics the numbers of children and young people being treated has increased by around 30% since 2010.”

Dr Gargan said the big challenge is to respond to the different treatment that children need.

“As we know, in the past Ireland has not been good to its children as evidenced by the Ryan Report and the recent publication of the report detailing the deaths of 196 children in care or known to the HSE between 2000 and 2010,” he said.

“However the good news is that new and more effective treatments aimed specifically at children are being brought to the fore all the time, often developed and pioneered here in Ireland where many aspect of treatment are approaching world class.

“The challenge now is to make practitioners and parents aware of these new options.”

The conference takes place on September 27 and will deal solely with the issues of children and young people.

Speakers will include Dr Gary O’Reilly of UCD and Professor Leonard Bickman of the Peabody School of Vanderbilt University, Tennessee, both of whom will discuss the ways in which technology – such as computer games and universally accessible specialist software programmes – can help the treatment of children.

Judge Conal Gibbons will draw on his experience in criminal and custody court cases with a focus on children and younger people.

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