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Ombudsman for Children launches “Take My Hand” Young People’s Experiences of Mental Health Services

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon, today launched a report to highlight the views of young people receiving inpatient mental health care.  Dr Muldoon, who presented the report to the Oireachtas Joint Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care, said: “This is a vulnerable group of children whose views on mental health services have not been heard in this way before, and they have important insights to share.”

The report, “Take My Hand”, highlights young people’s experiences of, and perspectives on mental health services, based on their own journeys from community-based primary healthcare services through to inpatient treatment. The report gives a rare insight into the experiences of 25 young people aged 14-17 in five of Ireland’s six inpatient units for children and young people. The young people spoke about what has helped them in this journey, what they found challenging and what changes they feel are needed to improve mental health supports and services.

“It is essential to put children at the centre of mental health services. The voices and views of these young people matter and it is vital that they are heard,” Dr Muldoon said.

The young people highlighted the importance of good relationships with medical professionals and the invaluable support they get from family and peers, among others.   However, they raised concerns about insufficient awareness of mental illnesses, including in some schools, and the stigma that attaches to mental illness.

They also spoke of problems in the way some medical professionals communicate with them and a belief that they are not heard, including in inpatient units.  The young people also spoke of difficulties with accessing local community and inpatient services without delays; inconsistency in services across the country and the impact of staff shortages on their care.

The Ombudsman for Children is calling for necessary changes in law, policy and the provision of services to appropriately address the mental health needs of children and young people.

“I’ve recently raised access to mental health services in Emergency Departments as an issue that needs to be addressed as a priority.  Furthermore, it is clear from the young people who participated in our consultation that they believe more needs to be done to support young people with mental health difficulties at an early stage.  Vulnerable children and their families should not have to wait until children reach breaking point before they get the help they need.”

ENDS

Media queries contact: Niamh Connolly, Communications Manager, niamh_connolly@oco.ie 01 8656806 087 1484173

Note to Editors:

Read: “Take My Hand” – Young People’s Experiences of Mental Health Services

Dr Niall Muldoon Statement to the Joint Committee on the Future of Mental Healthcare

The following links to the OCO website provide further information:

OCO Submission Seanad Public Consultation Committee Children’s Mental Health Services

OCO Annual Report Mental Health (Chapter 3.8 P30)