Surge in demand for mental health service

There has been a fourfold increase in the number of young adults seeking support for mental health issues over the last three years, it has emerged.

Mental health group Grow found that between 2010 and 2012, the number of 18 to 35-year-olds attending its meetings around the country rose from 4% to 17%.

Chief executive Michelle Kerrigan said young people had the right to recovery and social inclusion, but that this would not happen for many of them because of a lack of commitment and investment from the Government.

“While the Government has made promises in the last two budgets to invest €35m each year in community mental health services, to date there has been little or no follow-through,” she said.

Grow has 130 groups around the country and supports 4,000 people each year. It took 1,887 calls on its helpline — but this only operates from 9am to 1pm because of budget restrictions.

Grow’s method is loosely based on the 12-step programme developed by Alcoholics Anonymous, teaching members essential coping skills and incorporating social interaction and defined tasks to improve emotional and psychological functioning.

“Each and every one of Ireland’s young people is entitled to know ways of staying mentally healthy; how to recognise mental ill-health and how to access support when they need it in order to build resilience and engage in life fully,” said Ms Kerrigan.

She believes more young people are seeking help because of a greater awareness of mental wellbeing and the fact that several high-profile individuals, who had spoken publicly about their own problems, had played a leading role in removing the stigma around mental health.

Tomorrow is World Mental Health Day and Grow will be hosting information booths at third-level sites including Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, Waterford Institute of Technology, Dundalk IT, and Cork IT.

The group is hoping to use the event to engage with students on the issue of mental wellbeing.

“People are realising that they may need support at certain times in their lives. It’s not necessarily going to be prolonged. With the proper support in place, people can move past it and regain their self-esteem and their resilience,” said Ms Kerrigan.

Meanwhile, the charity Console is holding a suicide-prevention training programme in Dublin next week.

The one-day certificate programme — entitled ‘QPR: Question, Persuade, and Refer’ — takes place at the Marino Institute of Education, Griffith Avenue, next Tuesday.

* www.grow.ie.

* www.console.ie

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