Mental health continues to emerge as a very important issue in consultations with young people. NYCI supports the provision of both universal and targeted measures to promote positive mental health among young people alongside the provision of services for young people with mental health difficulties. NYCI through the National Youth Health Programme delivers the ASIST programme which trains those working with young people to become more ready, willing and able to help those at risk of suicide.
Excellent work has been undertaken by a range of organisations to address the stigma surrounding mental health difficulties and to support young people to reach out for help when in need. However much more needs to be done to support young people and reduce the incidences of self-harm, suicidal attempts and death by suicide. Findings from research by the Royal College of Surgeons demonstrated that by the age of 13 years, 1 in 3 young people in Ireland are likely to have experienced some type of mental health difficulty. By the age of 24 years, that rate had increased to over 1 in 2. Of particular concern is the fact that the suicide rate for young people aged 15-19 years is the fourth highest in the EU.
We welcome the recent publication of “Connecting for Life”, Ireland’s National Strategy to Reduce Suicide 2015-2020. However to be effective this strategy will require political leadership, inter-organisational coordination and cooperation and sufficient resources. It is vital that the next Government ensure all these elements are in place over the next five years if we are to reduce self-harm, suicidal behaviour and death by suicide.