ONE in 10 Irish children experiences mental health problems – and one in 25 will be severely disabled by it, a major conference has been told.
More than 450 students representing 26 second-level schools took part in the conference, aimed at getting young people to talk about mental health issues and ask for help if they need it.
Consultant psychiatrist Dr Claire Craven said that although the problem was prevalent, there were services that could be accessed and help was at hand.
She was speaking at the Kerry Youth Mental Health and Well-being Conference in Killarney's Europe Hotel, the biggest one of its kind ever held in this country.
Workshops were also conducted at the one-day event, the topics of which were dictated by the participants and included cyber-bullying, alcohol and drugs, stress management and sexuality.
Organised by the HSE's Children and Family Services department, the conference was also supported by voluntary agencies working with young people and the gardai.
Dr Craven, who heads up the HSE's child and adolescent mental health service (CAMHS) in north Kerry, said they were called on to help the 5pc of young people who were seriously disabled by a mental health issue and their clients ranged in age from five to 18.
Her team also includes a clinical nurse, occupational therapist, a speech and language therapist, a social worker and a child psychiatrist.
"Ten per cent of children or adolescents can have a mental health problem at any one time but about 4pc to 5pc have a severe disabling mental disorder and their needs can't be met by primary care services," she said.