Monday 26 September 2016

Over 3,000 children on waiting lists for mental health services despite high youth suicide rate

Geraldine Gittens

Published 27/10/2015 | 11:39

Childline received more than 8,000 calls in 2014.
Childline received more than 8,000 calls in 2014.

There are over 3,000 children on waiting lists for mental health services against a backdrop of a high youth suicide rate, a top UN body has found.

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The Children’s Rights Alliance has prepared a civil society report ‘Are We There Yet?’  which will put a spotlight on Ireland’s children’s rights record.

Certain groups of children, like those who or lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender, can be more vulnerable, the report found. A survey found that one in five LGBT young people had attempted suicide.

Bullying is a particular issue for these children and shockingly, four in ten LGBT young people reported having heard homophobic comments from their own teachers.

Childline received more than 8,000 calls in 2014, it was noted.

One in four girls aged between five and 12 years of age, and one in five boys in the same age group, are now classified as overweight.

“Yet, how can it be that Irish primary schools have fewer hours of physical education than our EU counterparts and food costs more in Ireland than in other countries?” the Children’s Rights Alliance said.

“Obesity is a complex issue that is often linked to food poverty and children from disadvantaged backgrounds are more likely to be overweight. Concerted, cohesive Government policy is urgently needed or else we are condemning our children to a life of obesity and all the life-threatening risks that are associated with it.”

Meanwhile, one in ten children have experienced at least one harmful incident a year as a result of someone else’s drinking. Alcohol misuse in families is also the reason that children are taken into care in a significant proportion of cases, the report noted.

Tanya Ward, Chief Executive of the Children’s Rights Alliance, says: “Our report asks the niggling question: are we there yet? The truth is that we’ve a lot to be proud of since Ireland last met with the UN. Our report covers the many positive reforms that have occurred for children over the last ten years. While many children are happy and safe, our report shows the gritty reality that too many others are experiencing serious breaches of their rights and points to areas where Ireland could be doing much better.

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