Friday 19 October 2018

Brendan O'Connor: Listen to these 7,000 kids now, not when it's too late

We are great at talking about mental health these days, but not so great at providing vulnerable children with the help they need, writes Brendan O'Connor

Help: Children often ‘need the opportunity to tell their story
Help: Children often ‘need the opportunity to tell their story
Brendan O'Connor

Brendan O'Connor

A very well-spoken and efficient sounding lady from the HSE came onto Morning Ireland to tell us that everything was fine. In fact the figures suggesting we had the fourth highest rate of teen suicide were out of date, and the Government is now pumping €5m into loads of new assistant psychologists for young people.

But Anne O'Connor did not dispute the fact 7,000 children are waiting for psychological services in the primary care area, and one third of those have been waiting for more than a year. The people who sit on these lists, she said, are not urgent cases. Though she did concede that early intervention is key in this area. Non-urgent cases can, of course, very easily become urgent cases. They can certainly become urgent in a year.

We pride ourselves on being great at talking about mental health in this country these days. And compared to how we used to be, we certainly are. Most of this change has come about not from anything the Government did, but from people in various leadership or prominent positions in the community speaking out to break the stigma around mental health.

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