Speeches

Tim O´Malley TD, Minister of State at the Launch of Pro-Teen Matters Web Site Magazine

Ladies and Gentlemen

I would like to thank Mental Health Ireland (MHI) for inviting me here this afternoon to launch Pro-Teen Matters – a magazine on the web for teenagers. An event such as this is testament to the importance MHI places on educating our young people on the importance of positive mental health and well-being.

The site is designed to attract students by providing an online experience that is both informative and entertaining. The particular features and dynamic content are specifically geared towards the target age group. It is a resource they can return to again and again.

Directing people to the site will naturally occur through Mental Health Ireland´s network in schools, and in time all schools will have access to this useful facility.

The web magazine is a follow up to “Mental Health Matters Schools Project”. This Resource Pack is being used in a number of areas, for example:

  • An independent module on mental health in Transition Year;
  • An element of the Leaving Certificate Applied Programme;
  • A component of Social, Personal and Health Education; and
  • A unit in a particular subject area – Religious Education, Home Economics and Media Studies. MHI is supporting the implementation of the programme through teacher training.

Mental Health Ireland (formally Mental Health Association of Ireland) is a national voluntary organisation that was founded in 1966. Today there are 14 Regional Officers and 98 local branches working throughout the country. Since its establishment, Mental Health Ireland has played a major role in educating public opinion about mental illness. This year MHI has taken “Mental Health and Young People” as its theme for World Mental Health Day.

Helping people with mental illness

In working to help people with mental illness MHI relies mainly on the identification of local needs by local branches, and the ability of these branches to address those needs most effectively by:

  • The provision of social housing to support people with mental illness
  • The setting-up of workshops in the community to provide training and work opportunities to people with mental illness
  • Visiting and befriending persons suffering from mental illness both in hospitals and within the community

Promoting Positive Mental Health

MHI uses a variety of means to promote positive mental health, including:

  • The production of numerous publications on relevant topics
  • Initiating educational projects – for example the positive mental health courses devised by Waterford MHA in collaboration with the Waterford Institute of Technology
  • Running conferences and seminars on specific subjects
  • Organising the National Public Speaking Project for post Primary Schools and Colleges
  • The provision of a wide range of information on mental health topics through printed material and the website www.mensana.org.

Funding

In 2002, MHI received an additional €0.127m (made available through East Coast Area Health Board).

Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

Adolescence is traditionally viewed as a time of profound change when young people make the transition to adult status. This transition is not easy and for many young people is accompanied by levels of self-doubt, fear and stress. An important aspect of coping with this change will be to promote self-esteem and self-confidence and to ensure that all young people develop personal and social skills. Children and young people need support in gaining control over their lives and coping with their problems.

With the increasing pressures on young people, it is accepted that there is a need to improve responses to their mental health needs. A Working Group was established by my Department in June 2000 to review child and adolescent psychiatry and to finalise a plan for its future development. The First Report of the Working Group on Child and Adolescent Psychiatric Services was presented to the Minister on the 1st March, 2001. The Report contains recommendations on the development of services for the management and treatment of Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorders / Hyperactivity Kinetic Disorder (ADHD/HKD) and the development of Child (6-12) and Adolescent (12-16) Psychiatric Inpatient Units.

The report recommended the establishment of seven child and adolescent inpatient facilities. Project teams have been established and design briefs are being prepared in respect of the proposed units in Cork, Limerick, Galway and one in the Eastern Regional Health Authority area – at St. Vincent´s Hospital Fairview – Capital funding will be provided for these units.

While these are the priority developments they should not impact on the other areas which also require further development and in this connection, additional funding of €6.061m (£4.773m) was provided in 2002 to broaden child and adolescent psychiatric services by supporting the recruitment of additional consultants and the further enhancement of existing multi-disciplinary teams. Steady progress has been made in developing a specialised service for this particular client group. Each health board now has funding for a minimum of 3 consultant-led child and adolescent multi-disciplinary teams.

The recently published Health Strategy, “Quality and Fairness – A Health System for You”, includes a commitment to the development and expansion of appropriate mental health services for persons aged between 16 and 18 years. A Sub-Group of the Working Group on Child and Adolescent Psychiatry is currently examining the provision of psychiatric services for this group.

Conclusion

In conclusion, I would like to pay tribute to Mental Health Ireland and in particular everybody involved in the development of Pro-Teen Matters. I believe the site will be of real practical value to all teenagers. The hard work, effort and dedication of all those involved is to be complimented. I am confident that your work will continue to have a positive impact and thus enhance the well-being and quality of life of our teenagers, which is of paramount importance to the future of this country. I wish the project every success.