ChildLinks Issue 2: Mental Health

Barnardos. (2007). ChildLinks Issue 2: Mental Health.
The theme of this edition of Childlinks is children's and young people's A mental health. Barnardos' National Children's Resource Centre information service frequently receives phone calls from parents in despair about where to go for help in regard to a child experiencing mental health issues. Often parents are frustrated about the lack of accessible, child friendly support services appropriate to their child's needs. We know from international and Irish research that the scale of the problem is significant. 20% of children under 15 have a psychiatric disorder at any one time. Of these, 10% have a mild disorder, 8% have a moderate to severe disorder and 2% have a disabling disorder. Boys experience more mental health disorders than girls. The rate for ADHD has been put at 2-5% of children under 15 years. The rate for youth suicide is 15.7 per 100,000 of 15—24 year olds. Waiting lists are the norm for mental health services in Ireland with children and young people waiting up to three years to get an appointment. The medical model and an over dependence on institutional care is still prevalent. Another concern is the lack of services for 17 and 18 year olds who often fall between unsuitable paediatric services and adult services. The national strategy for mental health promotion and service development, 'A Vision for Change‘, recommended a strategy that would be ‘person-centred, recovery-oriented, community-based and multi-disciplinary’. ‘A Vision for Change’ also endorses the model of a life course approach with the emphasis on prevention, early identification and intervention, positive mental health promotion and access to appropriately modelled and resourced services. Barnardos calls for the immediate implementation of the recommendations outlined in ‘A Vision for Change’. Expenditure on mental health needs to be significantly increased in order to seriously improve service provision. Children with mental health problems cannot afford to wait as any delay can lead to long-term negative impacts, which can be detrimental for individual children, their families and also the wider society.