Local senator calls for measures to tackle increase in youth mental health issues

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Local senator Aisling Dolan has said that actions must be taken to deal with the increase in mental health issues among young people in Ireland.

The Fine Gael senator was speaking as a report into mental health supports for schools was launched this week.

The report recommended the Youth Mental Health Pathfinder Project be implemented without delay.

“It will align key Government departments with responsibility for the health, wellbeing and education of our young people and will make navigating treatment and support mechanisms and programmes an easier process for parents and young people alike,” said Senator Dolan.

“A renewed spotlight has been shone on younger people’s mental health this week, which makes the timing of this report altogether more pertinent. It follows on from the Committee’s previous report on ‘Bullying’.”

Senator Dolan said this project is just one tranche in a series of measures needed to tackle the increase in mental health issues among young people.

Senator Dolan welcomed the €5 million in government funding for the Counselling in Primary Schools initiative and there is a recommendation in the report that this is expanded to secondary schools too.

“Changes have been made for more continuous assessment in some subjects at Leaving Certificate level and this needs to be broadened to more subject to reduce exam stress,” she said.

“For our universities, there is a recommendation to recruit, train and retain adequate numbers of mental health professionals.

“For young people in college, Minister Simon Harris has recently announced additional €5 million for student mental health supports at third level as well as an increase in the Student Assistanceship Fund.

“Togetherall is also a 24/7 online support with mental health professionals, which is now freely available to third level students in Ireland.”