Thursday 17 October 2019

Fianna Fail calls for drop-in health care centes in every county

Michael Brennan Deputy Political Editor

TEENAGERS should be provided with a drop-in mental health centre in every county in the country to combat the "youth mental health crisis".

The call was made by Fianna Fail, which said that the rate of youth suicide here was the fourth highest in Europe.

It came on the day of the funeral of Donegal teenager Erin Gallagher (13) who took her own life after being bullied.

Fianna Fail Senator Averil Power said there would be a cost to setting up Jigsaw mental health centres in every county.

“But the economic benefits of addressing mental health are huge. By investing a little bit more now, we can save more in the long term and more importantly, we can save lives,” she said.

There are currently four Jigsaw centres in Galway, Kerry, Roscommon and Meath –where young people in distress can call in for help in a youth-café style-environment rather than the more clinical hospital setting. It has led to a big increase in the number of young people making contact with HSE mental health staff who hold clinics there.

Fianna Fail did not provide any figure for opening similar centres in all counties, but said it would form part of its pre-Budget submission.

The Fianna Fail youth mental health document also calls for care teams to be put in place in schools – made up of parents, students, local mental health workers and community Gardai. And it wants a “Positive Schools” flags along the line of the “Green Schools” programme to recognise schools that are tackling bullying and mental health problems.

Fianna Fail Donegal North East TD Charlie McConalogue said the death of Erin Gallagher had been a “jolt” to the nation about the dangers of bullying.

“It’s an exceptionally tragic event that puts an onus on all of us and the Government to respond with the appropriate guidelines,” he said.

Children’s Minister Frances Fitzgerald has said that the issue of cyber-bullying will be prioritised in the new children’s policy framework being drawn up by her department.

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