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Thursday 28 September 2023 Dublin: 13°C
# Ireland's call
Bressie to head up youth group on mental health
The GAA’s Rob Hennelly will also be a member of the new task force which is due to meet in November.

pjimage (11) Niall 'Bressie' Breslin and junior minister Helen McEntee.

MEMBERS OF THE new youth mental health task force has been announced and there are some interesting names included.

The Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee today announced the makeup of the group, which includes Robbie Hennelly of the GAA.

The Mayo player has spoken out about mental health issues, particularly in sport.

He previously said he feels inter-county players find it difficult to speak publicly on issues like mental health.

Robert Hennelly Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO Lorraine O'Sullivan / INPHO / INPHO

A representative from the social media company Facebook will also sit on the task force.

The group, which will be chaired by the minister, also includes:

  • Paul Reid, Fingal County Manager (chair alternate)
  • Dr Tony Bates, CEO Jigsaw
  • Prof Mary Cannon, RCSI
  • Rob Hennelly, GAA
  • Dr Shari McDaid, Mental Health Reform
  • Moninne Griffith, BeLonG To
  • Mary Cunningham, National Youth Council of Ireland
  • Grainia Long, ISPCC
  • Cian Power, VP for Welfare, Union of Students of Ireland
  • Ian Power, CEO
  • Jim Breen, CEO Cycle Against Suicide
  • Facebook representative
  • Representatives of the health, education and children’s services sectors including from central government departments and the frontline

Bressie to chair youth group 

McEntee also announced the establishment of a young persons’ reference group which will be co-chaired by musician Niall Breslin, as well as the previous youth advisor to Jigsaw, Emma Farrell.

A Lust For Life / YouTube

Breslin, who set up the organisation Lust for Life, has been vocal about the issue of mental health in Ireland and gave an impassioned speech about mental health and wellbeing at a meeting of the Oireachtas health committee this year.

He spoke candidly to about his struggle with depression, anxiety and self-harm / YouTube

The reference group as well as the national consultative forum, which will involve key stakeholders, will assist the work of the task force at key stages.

Taoiseach Enda Kenny said he has “high expectations” from the work of the task force.

I know that Minister McEntee will work with members of the group to drive real change for our young people.

McEntee said the task force will be out on the frontline, meeting service providers, parents, teachers, community and voluntary groups.

Talking to young people

Most importantly, the group will meet young people in communities, she said.

Together with local communities, we can ensure that the voices of our young people are at the core of a more open, more engaging, more supportive national conversation about mental health and wellbeing.

The government came in for heavy criticism in April when it was announced that €12 million from a fund dedicated to mental health was being diverted to other areas.

However, following an onslaught from critics, the decision was reversed in June.

With the formation of a new government, a commitment was made to establish a national taskforce on youth mental health in the first 100 days of partnership government.

Pro-bono work 

The first reference group meeting chaired by Breslin will take place in September, while
The first national consultative forum meeting will take place in November.

All members taking part are doing so on voluntary basis and will not receive salary or payment in relation to their role on the task force.

Read: Irishman ‘burnt to the bone’ after sleeping bag caught fire at Australian rodeo>

Read: Irish Olympic boxer Michael O’Reilly has failed a doping test>

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