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Mental health, porn and physical activity key issues for those working with young people

Thursday, November 22, 2018 - 12:15

Minister Catherine Byrne launches new strategy to help Ireland become a country where all young people can experience positive health and wellbeing

Rachael Treanor, NYCI National Youth Health Programme manager, Minister Catherine Byrne, TD and Louise Fiztpatrick, Department of Children and Youth Affairs (Pic: Julien Behal).

Plans for a healthier Ireland for Ireland’s young people have been set out today (22.11.18) by the National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) - which represents youth organisations working with over 380,000 young people nationwide – and its partners in the National Youth Health Programme; the Health Service Executive and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.

Minister of State at the Department of Health, Catherine Byrne, TD officially launched the NYCI National Youth Health Programme Strategic Plan 2018-2022, which targets those working with young people in out-of-school settings.

Launching the Strategy today, Minister Byrne said; “I warmly welcome this new Strategy which aims to create a healthier Ireland for our young people.

“Health promotion in the youth sector is key to helping young people live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives, and to develop the skills they need to deal with the ups and downs that come their way. It is so important to encourage our young people to participate in physical activity and make healthy choices, and to support them to have healthy relationships and enjoy positive mental health.

“The National Youth Health Programme and youth organisations are already doing fantastic work in engaging with young people in relation to their health and wellbeing. Over the next 5 years this Strategy will further strengthen and enhance this work.

We have the youngest population in Europe and our young people are full of potential. Working in partnership across all sectors, our shared goal must be a healthier Ireland. This begins with our children and young adults, supporting them in shaping not only their own future but the future of generations to come.”

There are three major areas the in which the plan will drive change, including:

  • the nationwide provision of evidence based training and resources for those working with young people, on topics responding to their needs, including mental health, porn and physical activity.
  • developing and promoting a culture within organisations in the youth sector which focuses on health and wellbeing.
  • advocating on issues that affect the health and wellbeing of young people.

Mental health, porn and physical activity key issues

Rachael Treanor, NYCI National Youth Health Programme manager said: “Those working with young people highlighted mental health, porn and physical activity as key issues in needs assessments carried out by the health programme.* This ambitious strategy will help us support those working on the ground to deal with these and other issues and to create health promoting settings for the young people they work with.”

Importance of partnership approach

“This strategy aims to support the health of young people in out of school settings and will not be realised without the active engagement of youth organisations, youthreach centres and many others across the youth work sector. This is why it is so important that this is a partnership between NYCI, the Health Service Executive and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs,” concluded Ms Treanor.

The National Youth Health Programme is part of the Government-led Healthy Ireland initiative.

The strategy document is available here: http://www.youth.ie/nyci/NYCI-National-Youth-Health-Programme-Strategic-Plan-2018-2022

ENDS

Contact Daniel Meister, Communications Manager at NYCI 087 781 4903 or communications@nyci.ie (main NYCI line: 01 478 4122)

Notes to Editors:

*Sources:

  • Understanding Young People and Pornography, Needs Assessment, National Youth Health Programme (2018);
  • Physical Activity in the Youth Work Sector, Needs Assessment, National Youth Health Programme (2017);
  • Mental Health of Young People in the Youth Sector Needs Assessment, National Youth Health Programme (2015).

Key findings included:

  1. Physical Activity in the Youth Work Sector (2017)
  • 60% of youth workers stated that certain groups such as teenage girls and vulnerable young people are extremely difficult to engage in physical activity,
  • 90% identified a need for more resources to increase young people participation in physical activity
  • Training was identified as a need within the youth work sector

 

  1. Understanding Young People and Pornography (2018)

84% (n=175) of respondents think that pornography influences the sexual health of young people

When asked how pornography impacts young people, the largest theme to emerge was that pornography gives young people an unrealistic representation of sex and sexual relationships. However, many young people are unaware that what they are viewing is unrealistic and are using pornography as a source of sexual education that often goes unchallenged. Respondents highlighted a number of consequences for young people of this:

  1. Pornography does not teach young people about developing and sustaining healthy sexual relationships. It rarely demonstrates discussions about emotions, giving consent, and/or engaging in foreplay.
  2. Young people are engaging in riskier sexual behaviours by mimicking the pornography they have seen. This includes not using contraception and engaging in sexual acts that they are not comfortable with but which have been normalised by pornography
  3. Some young men’s attitudes and behaviours towards women have been noted as disrespectful and sometimes aggressive
  4. Expectations around sexual performance and body image are skewed as young people try to emulate what they see on screen
  5. The pressure on young people to engage in what they perceive to be normal sexual behaviours impacts their mental health
  6. A small group of respondents were concerned about young men becoming addicted to porn and not having any interest in a sexual relationship with another person.

52% (n=88) of respondents said that they needed more training and resources to address the needs of young people in relation to pornography and their sexual health

A further 18% (n=31) said they needed more information and guidance around how to talk to young people about this topic in an appropriate way

 

  1. Mental Health of Young People in the Youth Sector (2015)

When asked what the main issues affecting young people were a range of issues were highlighted (Figure 1). The predominant issues identified were;

  • Anxiety, 97% (n=274),
  • Stress, 96 % (n=282)
  • Body image, 90% (n=264)

Training:

“We need more training to deal with these issues. We also need more tools to help kids deal with these issues” Survey Respondent

  • 80% (n=213) of respondents highlighted a lack of training as being a challenge they encountered when working with young people concerning their mental health.
  • 96% (n=270) felt training and education was needed for young people.
  • 96% (n=264) felt education and training for staff was needed to support the needs of the young people they work with.


National Youth Council of Ireland

The National Youth Council of Ireland is a membership-led umbrella organisation that represents and supports the interests of voluntary youth organisations and uses its collective experience to act on issues that impact on young people.

National Youth Health Programme
The National Youth Health Programme is a partnership between NYCI, the Health Service Executive and the Department of Children and Youth Affairs.