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Verwoerd helps lift veil on teen mental health issues

Unicef Ireland executive director Melanie Verwoerd was at Ballyfermot's Youth Centre yesterday to launch the organisation's 'Changing the Future: Experiencing Adolescence In Contemporary Ireland'.

The report is one of a series of four by Unicef which will form a "holistic picture of teenage well-being in Ireland, in the words of the young people themselves".

The principle findings are that among young people:

> 50pc have suffered from depression in the past.

> 26pc have felt or suffered from feeling suicidal.

> 20pc have felt or suffered from self-harming.

> 13pc have felt or suffered from anorexia or bulimia.

Only 14pc had not felt or suffered from any of these mental health problems in the past.

"This report is very important because mental health is clearly an issue that a lot of adolescents and teenagers suffer from," Ms Verwoerd said.

"This is the second of four reports that Unicef are doing and the focus of this one was on mental health. In an online study, we asked young people how they were experiencing life as teenagers and what we found was very shocking.

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"The results are big figures and it's important that they are looked into."

Ms Verwoerd, a mother of two who grew up in South Africa, said she had been fortunate not to have encountered the same problems.


"I was very lucky I have never experienced those kind of feelings, but I think what is very important is that we recognise that, in the society we live in in Ireland, there are problems and we need to address them," she said.

"I think there is more and more unwillingness to talk about mental health and discussing it is very important.

"What we are trying to do with these reports is get a 360-degree view on how young people experience adolescence."

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