JPagetRFPhotos via Shutterstock

Mental health needs of vulnerable children in Ireland 'not being met'

The need for stability and continuity of care for children going through the state’s care and justice systems has been highlighted in a new report.

THE MENTAL HEALTH needs of vulnerable of young people in Ireland’s care and justice systems are not being met, a new report released by the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs has shown.

The pressing need for a “joined-up” system that addresses the mental health needs of children and teenagers was underlined in the Children’s Mental Health Coalition’s report, Someone to Care.

“One of the strongest messages from the young people interviewed in this report, reinforced by the professionals we consulted, is the need for stability and continuity in care,” said Orla Barry, Director of Mental Health Reform and incoming Chair of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition. “Stability is often missing from their lives and yet the overwhelming message is that if they could develop a single trusting relationship, the impact would be enormous. This means we need the different agencies working with the young people to comprehensively and effectively work together.”

Barry said that while positive developments, including the establishment of the Child and Family Agency and the Assessment, Consultation and Therapy Service (ACTS), were welcome, the report also identified the imperative need for “a joined up system that really addresses the mental health needs of young people in care and in the youth justice system”.

Dr Rosaleen McElvaney, the report’s lead author, said the study acknowledges the challenges of providing high quality care, which she described as “considerable”. However, she said there was nevertheless “a clear need for a shared understanding and common language”.

“For example, many young people are involved with the youth justice system due to mental health difficulties that are left unaddressed. We need a process that diverts them towards community services that address their needs. Earlier intervention and support will lead to better outcomes for all involved.”

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, TD, said that the development of the Child and Family Agency and ACTS “demonstrated the Department of Children’s commitment to addressing the mental health needs of children and young people in the care and youth justice systems”.

Why do children end up in care in Ireland?
Column: For foster children like me, the Children’s Referendum is a new chance
Children’s Ombudsman criticises application of ‘in camera’ rule on child cases

Your Voice
Readers Comments
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.