The Irish Government is failing children with mental health difficulties. Urgent reform of the mental health system for children and young people under 18 years is desperately needed.
IPRT is one of 38 organisations who have been brought together by the Children’s Rights Alliance and Amnesty International Ireland to form the Children’s Mental Health Coalition. The newly formed Coalition today launched a manifesto and website www.childrensmentalhealth.ie to demand action from the Government.
Jillian van Turnhout, Chair of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition and Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, said: “The delivery of child mental health services and supports must become a political priority.
“In a shocking violation of their human rights, nearly 250 children were treated in adult inpatient units in 2008 because there were no child or adolescent places.
"More than 3,000 children face unacceptably long waiting lists for mental health services, there is patchy service provision across the country, responses that fail to meet basic needs and a lack of focus on early intervention that could prevent future problems. This must change.”
Colm O’Gorman, Executive Director of Amnesty International Ireland said: “Not only does the Government have a legal and moral obligation to improve the lives of children in Ireland, it has the power to make this happen.
“We need to invest in children’s well-being. Failure to do so will cost more in the long run. There will also be a terrible human cost - too many in our communities have experienced the pain of mental health problems and suicide.
“The Coalition has proposed cost-effective workable solutions. It is imperative the Government acts urgently to address the problems.”
Over the next two years, the Coalition will advocate for action in four key areas prioritised by Coalition members; the mental health services, the education system, the criminal justice system and the care system. The immediate implementation of the manifesto will truly make a difference to children.
The Coalition’s challenge to Government
We call on the Government to urgently take the necessary steps to ensure that:
- Children are provided with child-appropriate mental health services and inappropriate placements in adult in-patient units are ended;
- Schools are equipped to engage in mental health promotion and provide early supportive interventions;
- Multidisciplinary forensic mental health services are provided and that children with mental health difficulties who come into contact with the law are, where appropriate, diverted into mental health services; and
- Children in care who experience mental health difficulties are assessed and receive necessary follow up services and supports.
The Children’s Mental Health Coalition has 38 member organisations from a range of backgrounds and sectors including children’s rights, human rights, educational and mental health services.