1. Why is a Taskforce being set up?
- The Programme for Partnership Government committed to establish a National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health “to consider how best to introduce and teach resilience, coping mechanisms, greater awareness to children and young people, and how to access support services voluntarily at a young age.”
- The Taskforce is one of the Taoiseach’s priority items for the first 100 days of Government
2. Who are the Taskforce members?
- The Taskforce will be chaired by Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People Helen McEntee TD
- The Minister has invited a range of diverse perspectives to join the Taskforce representing public, private and community/voluntary sectors of society as well as different genders, ages and localities
- Taskforce Membership
- The Taskforce will be supported in their work by a Young Persons Reference Group and a National Consultative Forum so that the breadth and depth of perspectives can inform the process
- This small but diverse group will have their first meeting on September 6th in Dublin
3. What were the criteria for choosing those members?
- The aim of the selection process was to include representatives from a range of different roles in the community with expertise in their field who could shape how we improving youth mental health supports and services for young people
- The final membership aims to represent a diversity of perspective while ensuring a balance of gender, ages, localities and sectors
4. Why are there no young people included in the membership of the taskforce?
- We could have had one or two ‘young’ representatives on the group. But this would not have represented the diversity of perspectives and experiences of young people across the country
- Instead we will be establishing a dedicated Young Persons Reference Group that can work in parallel with the Taskforce to provide challenge and feedback to the Taskforce on the diversity of views, concerns and expectations of young people all over Ireland
- The Youth Reference Group will be co-chaired by Niall Breslin of Lust for Life, and will provide a critical input into the policy thinking and recommendations of the Taskforce
5. What will the Taskforce achieve?
- Over the next 12 months, the Taskforce has a mandate to work with community organisations and national organisations to lead changes in the community that can empower young people to build their own resilience and emotional wellbeing
- In its first phase of work it will engage widely across the country to co-design programmes or initiatives that can achieve this objective
6. What issues will the Taskforce prioritise?
- The Terms of Reference for the Taskforce
- The Taskforce will be mandated to act as a galvanising force to improve:
- Emotional literacy and reducing stigma so that we build capability to talk about mental health as openly as physical or dental health
- Awareness of services and supports
- Accessibility to services and supports at different times and in different areas
- Alignment of services and supports across different providers (public organisations, private organisations, community organisations, voluntary organisations etc.)
7. When will we see any changes?
- The meetings and work of the Taskforce will be an open and transparent process, and updates will be posted here regularly.
- The process will include many site-visits and engagements country-wide which will start in the Autumn.
- The Taskforce will conclude its work within 12 months.
8. Similar groups have been convened in the past, what will be different this time?
- The Taskforce is a community-led group with a range of diverse perspectives, chaired by the Minister of State for Mental Health and Older Persons
- The Taskforce has been invited to lead change. It will not put together a report that is going to sit on a shelf instead it will identify specific, immediate actions that can be implemented within communities
- Each member of the group will be asked to work within their profession and/or within their community to identify how to implement positive changes for young people in Ireland
9. Are Taskforce members being paid?
- Members of the Taskforce have been asked to contribute their time on a pro-bono, voluntary basis and will not receive salary or payment in relation to their role on the Taskforce
10. What are the structures of this Taskforce? Who will they report to?
- Minister McEntee will report to the Cabinet Committee on Social Policy and Public Service Reform on the work of the Taskforce.
11. Is there an exclusive focus on making changes in schools or to the curriculum?
- No. Improving emotional resilience and wellbeing for young people isn’t as simple as changing what we teach children in schools.
- Recent curriculum changes are a positive step in raising understanding and awareness among young people however there is more we can do to prioritise prevention and early intervention in our communities to improve awareness, resilience and coping skills, as we set out to achieve in the Programme for Partnership Government.