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Substance abuse issues must be a focus for youth mental health taskforce – Mary Lou McDonald TD

5 August, 2016 - by Mary Lou McDonald TD


Mary Lou McDonald TD, Sinn Féin’s All-Ireland spokesperson on mental health and suicide awareness, has welcomed the announcement of the membership and terms of reference for the new youth mental health taskforce.

Deputy McDonald highlighted the absence of a direct reference to drug and alcohol abuse in the terms of reference - a major risk factor for mental illness amongst young people.

“I welcome the announcement from government this morning of the membership and the terms of reference for the Youth mental health taskforce.  The work of this taskforce is important particularly if it helps to end the stigma around mental health and encourages young people to talk about their mental health. 

“Many of the current problems in our mental health services particularly for young people are due to the failure to implement large sections of the reforms recommended by a Vision for Change over 10 years ago.  This includes reforms such as increasing the number of child and adolescents mental health teams and in-patient beds, 24 hour crisis support and better access to primary care counselling services.  All of these measures would go a long way to improving the situation for young people experiencing mental health difficulties today.

“I hope that as the taskforce begins its work it will also take into account major risk factors for young people and their mental health such as drug and alcohol abuse.  The terms of reference as they stand at the moment make no direct reference to issues of substance abuse and mental health.

“The recommendations that come from the task force should be treated as a priority by the government and not be allowed to gather dust on a shelf.  The mental health of our young people is too important for that.”

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