Lack of youth facilities may cause depression, warn experts

THE chronic lack of facilities for young people in Ireland could be leading to depression among teenagers, an expert has warned.

Authors of the East Cork Area Development report, Mary McGrath and Deborah Lynch, did not ask young people any questions about feelings of depression or suicide in the survey or a related conference, but they reported a number of unsought references were made to isolation, exclusion and not feeling a part of society.

A Cobh teenager, for example, said: “I stay at home because I don’t drink or smoke I don’t fit in with the groups.”

“In the light of how prevalent suicide and depression is amongst young people, particularly young males, we must also take account of these expressed feelings,” the report said.

Responding to the findings, HSE South mental health resource officer Brenda Crowley said this lack of facilities can lead to situations which can often exacerbate issues already facing young people.

“Young people themselves made the link between the lack of facilities, feelings of boredom, depression, danger and drinking alcohol.

“A National Suicide Foundation study in 2004 also highlights the link that young people made between a lack of recreational activities in their communities to feelings of frustration, boredom and misuse of drugs and alcohol,” she said.

“This report reiterates the need for all agencies — statutory, voluntary and local communities — to work together to ensure our young people have somewhere safe and appropriate to socialise,” Ms Crowley said.

There were more than 30 suicides in the Midleton area between 2002 and 2004, but Cork East Fine Gael TD David Stanton said the report highlights the benefits that facilities could offer young people.

“Youth cafes or other places would give them a chance to talk to each other. You will always have people drinking or abusing drugs but more facilities will offer them an alternative.

“It’s the same in towns around the country, where the most that young people can do is walk up one side of the street and down the other.

“Thousands of new houses are being built but there are no community centres, youth clubs or sports facilities being provided with them,” Mr Stanton said.

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