‘Missed chance’ on youth mental health

A report by the Taskforce on Youth Mental health is “a failed opportunity”, says Mental Health Reform, because there are no costings.

‘Missed chance’ on youth mental health

The national coalition on mental health is disappointed the report did not include a budget commitment.

Mental Health Reform director Shari McDaid said the report made some strong recommendations in areas they had campaigned for.

Dr McDaid, one of the task force members, said the recommendation to establish an independent national youth mental health advocacy and information service is particularly welcome.

The coalition is also glad that the report recommends reforming consent provisions under the Mental Health Act 2001.

Changing the consent provisions will give young people the same rights to make decisions about their mental health treatment as someone being treated for a physical health difficulty.

“However, overall, it must be said that the lack of additional funding attached to the recommendations in the report represents a failed opportunity to make a bigger impact on young people’s mental health in Ireland,” said Dr McDaid.

It was reported earlier this month that 2,500 children are waiting for their first mental health appointment. Also, child and Adolescent Mental Health Services continue to operate at just 50% of recommended staffing levels.

Dr McDaid said a recent report on mental health supports in higher education reveals a 41% rise in students seeking counselling over the past three years. In many of the institutions, there is now a six-month waiting list for counselling services.

Mental Health Reform is also disappointed that the timeframe for updating the Mental Health Act is the latter half of next year.

“More than two and a half years have passed since the publication of the Expert Group review of the act,” said Dr McDaid. “More urgency is needed to improve the protection of young people’s human rights in mental health care in Ireland.”

Mental Health Reform is the national coalition promoting improved mental health services and the social inclusion of people with mental health difficulties. It currently has 62 member organisations.

Launching the report in Dublin yesterday, Health Minister Simon Harris said every recommendation has a timeline for delivery.

He said it was a “crisp” report with clear accountability and insisted that the necessary funding would be provided.

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