Press Release

Minister for Children, Mary Hanafin, opens conference on Mood Swings, Depression and Suicidal Behaviour in Young People

Ms Mary Hanafin TD, Minister for Children will make the opening address at a conference on ‘Mood Swings, Depression and Suicidal Behaviour in Young People’ which is being organised by the Department of Child and Family Psychiatry at the Mater Hospital, Dublin on Friday 19 January, 2001.

“In organising a conference such as this, the Department of Child and Family Psychiatry is providing a valuable opportunity to learn about the impact of life on young people and how they can be helped to cope with their problems.” the Minister said. “Learning to cope with life is vital to a young person’s well-being. Modern society places a lot of stress on young people and in many instances they are unable to cope. When this occurs they should feel that they can seek assistance without fear of being stigmatised or embarrassed,” said the Minister.

The Minister also spoke of the importance of exploring the causes and ways of preventing suicidal behaviour in young people and stated that this year the Department of Health and Children has made available an additional £830,000 which will go towards suicide prevention programmes in the health boards and towards research aimed at improving our understanding of suicide and parasuicide.

Suicide is now the most common cause of death among 15 to 24 year olds in Ireland exceeding deaths due to cancer and road traffic accidents. An important aspect of suicide prevention will be to promote self-esteem and self-confidence and to ensure that all young people develop personal and social skills.

The Minister went on to say that “The significant development of child care services which is taking place at present will promote the welfare of children who are not receiving adequate care and protection.” The development of a comprehensive child and adolescent psychiatric service has been identified as a priority by the Department of Health and Children. Minister Hanafin stated that an additional £3.225m has been made available in 2001 to further developments in child and adolescent psychiatry services.

The conference will look at the challenges of providing support for those most vulnerable in our society. It will also indicate the importance being placed on the value of promoting positive mental health and well-being among our young people.