Millions more must be spent on youth mental health care, government told
Investment in youth mental health care should be a government priority in the autumn budget, a leading young people's organisation has urged.
The National Youth Council of Ireland (NYCI) called for a 32 million euro spend on improving services for children and young adults with mental health difficulties in its costed pre-budget submission.
It is also asked for almost 50 million euro to be spent halving long-term youth unemployment, 24 million euro to restore the full adult rate of jobseekers' allowance for young people and 7.5 million euro to enhance youth work services.
But the council, which represents youth organisations working with more than 380,000 young people in Ireland, placed particular significance on mental health as it launched its submission.
It called for an additional 200 school guidance counsellors to be employed and investment to address waiting lists for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.
James Doorley, deputy director of NYCI, said: "Census 2016 indicates that our population aged 10 to 24 years will increase to over one million by 2025.
"With this in mind, our pre-budget 2018 submission recommends costed measures that will help Government to invest in policies, services and supports to meet the needs of young people today, while preparing for demographic pressures in the coming years."
He said while there had been some welcome initiatives to tackle mental health problems, the issue "still looms large in the lives of Irish young people".
"While the overall number of people dying by suicide has declined, for example, there has been an increase among young men," he said.
"And, of particular concern is the fact that the suicide rate for young people aged 15 to 19 here in Ireland is the fourth-highest in the EU.
"Uniquely in Europe, Ireland has a growing youth population.
"It is, therefore, critical that the staff and resources are available to assist young people with mental health difficulties when they need them; otherwise the waiting lists will continue to increase."