Mental health, porn and lack of physical activity: Key issues impacting the young

Mental health, porn and lack of physical activity: Key issues impacting the young
File image of young people on smartphones

Mental health, pornography and the lack of physical activity are the key issues affecting young people.

That's according to the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI), which has launched its National Youth Health strategy for 2018-2022.

Among the goals to drive change are:

  • * The nationwide provision of evidence-based training and resources for those working with young people
  • * Looking at mental health, accessing porn and physical activity
  • * Developing and promoting a culture within youth organisations which focuses on health and wellbeing
  • * Advocating on issues that affect the health and well-being of young people.

Ireland has the youngest population in Europe with one third under 25 years old. The number of children who are significantly overweight has trebled over the past decade while one in four people in Ireland will suffer from mental health problems at some stage in their life.

The NYCI pointed to a study of young people's attitudes to pornography which showed that young people are increasingly engaging in riskier sexual behaviour by mimicking pornography they have seen and that it creates an unrealistic expectation of sex and sexual relationships.

Among youth workers, the lack of adequate training has been raised as a barrier to adequately engaging with young people with mental health issues.

Some 96% of youth workers surveyed by the NYCI felt education and training for staff was needed to support the needs of the young people they work with.

Some 60% of youth workers stated that certain groups, such as teenage girls and vulnerable young people, are extremely difficult to engage in physical activity. Nine out of 10 said there is a need for more resources to increase the participation of young people in physical activity.

NYCI National Youth Health Programme manager Rachael Treanor said the strategy would help youth workers address these issues on the ground.

“Those working with young people highlighted mental health, porn and physical activity as key issues in needs assessments carried out by the health programme.* This ambitious strategy will help us support those working on the ground to deal with these and other issues and to create health-promoting settings for the young people they work with," she said.

Minister of State at the Department of Health Catherine Byrne said the strategy would create a healthier Ireland for young people to grow up in.

"Health promotion in the youth sector is key to helping young people live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives, and to develop the skills they need to deal with the ups and downs that come their way."

"It is so important to encourage our young people to participate in physical activity and make healthy choices, and to support them to have healthy relationships and enjoy positive mental health," she said.

The full report can be read here

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