New mental health taskforce to consult young people and Facebook representatives

New mental health taskforce to consult young people and Facebook representatives

Young people are to be consulted by a new task force on mental health issues.

The group is made up of representatives of youth groups, health experts and Facebook - and will be chaired by Junior Minister Helen McEntee.

The community-led task force will first meet early next month.

There are huge waiting lists to access mental health services in Ireland, as well as higher-than-average suicide rates among teenagers.

Junior Minister with responsibility for Mental Health Helen McEntee outlines the group's priorities.

"Prevention, prevention, prevention, and early intervention," she said.

"The second piece is to identify and make sure people are aware of the services that are actually there.

"The third piece is to make sure that when they actually try to access the services, that they can.

And fourthly, what's different I suppose, about this task force, is that we need to start this from a community setting."

CEO of the ISPCC Grainia Long said that hiring more psychologists is one of her top requirements.

"We're hearing all the time from children that they're struggling to get appointments, that it's taking 18 months for non-emergency appointments with psychologists, and sometimes up to four weeks for emergency, acute appointments, and that's not good enough," she said.

Minister McEntee agrees that increasing services is important, but young people also need to be supported to help themselves;

She welcomed the presence of representatives from Facebook are on the task force, and said that hearing young people's voices will be essential.

"To be able to say whether or not they feel something will work, whether or not they feel something is working at the moment, or if they have their own ideas about what they feel we need to do, that will very much feed into it.

"A key component to this task force actually working is the younger people's voices need to be heard."

The Union of Students in Ireland has welcomed the establishment of The National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health.

“USI are honoured to be part of the body to increase awareness of mental illness and reduce the stigma surrounding it.” Jack Leahy, USI deputy president, said.

“It is extremely positive that mental health is a priority for the government and we are looking forward to working with Minister McEntee and the taskforce.”

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