independent

Sunday 20 April 2014

Number of young adults seeking mental health support soars

The number of young people seeking mental health support has increased four-fold - photo posed
The number of young people seeking mental health support has increased four-fold - photo posed

THE number of young adults seeking mental health support has increased four-fold.

Mental health organisation Grow called on the Government to deliver finally on the €35m promised for community mental health services.

Chief executive Michelle Kerrigan revealed that between 2010 and 2012 the number of 18-35-year-olds attending Grow meetings around the country soared from 163 to 696.

"Young people have the right to recovery and social inclusion but without the right commitment of investment from our Government, this unfortunately will not be a reality for many of them," Ms Kerrigan warned.

"In recent weeks, thousands of Ireland's young people began their first year of college, an extremely important time where they face new challenges and perhaps some old ones that were not addressed in their earlier life.

"Whilst the Government has made promises in the last two Budgets to invest 35 million euros each year in community mental health services, to date there has been little or no follow-through."

Grow has 130 groups nationwide and supports 4,000 people each year.

It also took 1,887 calls in 2012 to its helpline, which operates only from 9am -1pm daily due to budget restrictions.

Ms Kerrigan said Ireland must mark Budget 2014 next Tuesday, and World Mental Health Day this Thursday, by making a commitment to delivering the promised funding.

She said the increase in the numbers seeking help is down to a greater awareness of mental wellbeing and several high-profile individuals speaking publicly about their own problems, which helped remove some of the stigma around mental health issues.

It plans to host information booths at several third-level institution sites around the country including Trinity College Dublin, Dublin City University, Waterford Institute of Technology, Dundalk IT and Cork IT on Thursday.

"Each and every one of Ireland's young people is entitled to know ways to stay mentally healthy, how to recognise mental ill-health and how to access support when they need it in order to build resilience and engage in life fully," Ms Kerrigan said.

"We all strive to maintain our mental wellbeing. We want to be in a place where we can cope with the day-to-day challenges that life throws at us.

"People are realising that they may need support at certain times in their lives. It's not necessarily going to be prolonged. With the proper support in place, people can move past it, and regain their self esteem and their resilience."

Grow's support programme is loosely based on the 12-step one developed by Alcoholics Anonymous. It teaches members essential coping skills and incorporates social interaction and defined tasks to improve emotional and psychological functioning.

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