Young people suffering from mental illness

We must protect and support young people suffering with mental illness – Neville

Fine Gael TD for Limerick and President of the Irish Association of Suicidology, Dan Neville, will today (Saturday) tell the Mental Health and Suicide Awareness Seminar in the Mansion House, that we need to invest in adolescent psychiatric services to protect our young people from the scourge of suicide.

“In times of recession, when opportunities are limited, the pressure of expectations has serious consequences for vulnerable young people. Ireland has one of the fastest rising suicide rates in the world, and it is a phenomenon that is particularly devastating among our youth. Between 2003 and 2008, there was an increase in rates of suicide of 40% for boys and 50% for girls. It’s estimated that there are two suicides per month by children younger than 15 years old.

“Adolescence offers huge positive advantages to young people, as they are given the opportunity to determine their own future. However, with this comes the pressure to succeed, which can lead to a feeling of failure. The uncertainty, stress and multiple choices that face our teenagers can contribute to depression and suicidal behaviour. Today’s youth do not have the same belief as previous generations that the pillars of society can advise and guide them.

“Ireland is suffering from historic under-investment in child and adolescent psychiatric services, which has resulted in services that are either sporadic or non existent. More than 200,000 children or adolescents have a mental or behavioural problem. We cannot give up on them.

“The Programme for Government commits to ring fencing €35 million within the Health budget each year, to develop community mental health services as outlined in A Vision for Change. This will be a key development in the battle against mental illness, and will ensure easy access to appropriate services for young people and adults alike. It also recognises the serious need to develop modern health services in this country.

“People can and do recover from mental illness. Ireland deserves a 21st century community based person-focused mental health service, based on the principles of recovery. One in four of us will suffer from a mental health problem at some stage in our lives. Early intervention is key and I will be pushing the Government to ensure it delivers on its commitment to implement the changes so badly needed in this area, where other Governments have failed.”