UNCRC concluding observations on Ireland’s children’s rights record

The UN Committee on the Rights of the Child published its concluding observations on Ireland’s children’s rights record on 4th February 2016.

The concluding observations were developed following an examination of Ireland by the UN Committee on 14th January in Geneva, Switzerland.

Mental Health Reform has sought to inform the discussion between the UN Committee and Irish Government through its submission to the Children’s Rights Alliance parallel report to the Committee. This submission outlined ongoing gaps in child and adolescent mental health services and supports across the country.

Mental Health Reform’s position on child and adolescent mental health services was further promoted by attending the examination in Geneva.

While the Committee on the Rights of the Child has made a number of recommendations to Government, MHR’s Snapshot Analysis will outline those recommendations that relate specifically to mental health.

Children’s mental health and Budget 2016

As Chair of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition, Mental Health Reform has included specific recommendations on children’s mental health in our campaign on Budget 2016.

In our pre-budget submission to Government, we include the following recommendations:

1. Allocation of an additional €35 million for community mental health services in 2016, to be used in part to ensure:

Staffing levels recommended in A Vision for Change are met

A particular focus on staffing for child and adolescent mental health services

Capacity is built within perinatal and infant health services to enable professionals to support the social and emotional development of children in their early years

2. The Department of Education should provide funding to support the implementation of the national guidelines on mental health promotion and well-being for both primary and post primary schools:

Funding could be used to provide basic training for all primary and post primary school teachers so that they can identify children/adolescents at risk of developing a mental health difficulty and promote the mental health and well-being of children in line with the ‘whole school approach’

3. Continue to invest in family supports and parenting programmes, including the Triple P Programme

You can read more about Mental Health Reform’s submission here.

Children’s Mental Health Coalition current priorities

Below is an outline of the priorities of the CMHC’s three sub groups for the next year:

Care and Youth Justice sub-group

The Coalition will continue to advocate on the key recommendations of the Someone to Care report, namely:

– Listen to the voice of the child: involve young people in planning service developments, education and consultation

– Issue a policy statement and national strategy to address the mental health needs of children and young people in the care of the state

– Establish a common assessment framework and ongoing monitoring of children’s and young people’s mental health needs

– Provide stability for children and young people in the care and in youth justice systems

– Provide adequate, equitable access to services

– Establish mandatory protocols for inter-agency work

– Develop training programmes in identifying and understanding psychological well-being issues, as an integral part of professional development for all professionals

– Provide legislative protection for children and young adults leaving care or the youth justice system, and for children who are homeless

 

Education sub-group

The Coalition will continue to advocate for the implementation of the national guidelines on mental health for primary and post primary schools, namely:

– The appointment of a senior official within the Department of Education and Skills

– Liaison with the Children’s Services Committees

– Inter-agency working between schools and CAMHS

– Allocation of assigned resources

– Communication with the wider community and external agencies working in the area of mental health and youth work

– Anti-bullying strategies

– Recognition of the particular risk of developing mental health difficulties among children who are  deaf

– ‘One Good Adult’

– Training on mental health in all teacher training curriculums

– A commitment by the DES to provide basic training for all school teachers

– Monitoring and evaluation of the guidelines by the Department of Education and Skills on a long-term basis

 

Children’s Mental Health Services Sub-group 

The Coalition will continue to advocate on the key recommendations of its report on meeting the mental health support needs of children and adolescents, namely:

– Enhance mental health promotion to increase protective factors and decrease risk factors for developing mental health difficulties.

– Build the capacity of the primary care sector to provide comprehensive mental health services to children and adolescents, including early intervention, detection and appropriate interventions for child and adolescent mental health difficulties and conditions.

– Develop specific quality standards and guidelines for CAMHS.

– Increase accessibility of child and adolescent mental health services.

– Develop local alternatives to inpatient services such as assertive outreach, early intervention in psychosis and other community-based intensive supports, in addition to family centred supports.

– Ensure accessible, developmentally appropriate, and evidence informed specialist inpatient services for children and adolescents with complex or acute mental health difficulties, including children or adolescents with a dual diagnosis of mental health and substance misuse and children with both learning and mental health difficulties.

– Develop and implement a national framework to support children and adolescents to effectively transition from CAMHS to adult mental health services.

– Effective and meaningful participatory structures should be resourced, mandated and evaluated to facilitate children’s, young people’s and their families’ involvement in child and adolescent mental health service design, care planning, service delivery and service evaluation.

 

Children’s Mental Health Coalition expresses concern at closure of Waterford Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to new referrals

The Children’s Mental Health Coalition (CMHC) has learned that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the Waterford area are no longer accepting new referrals.

Shari McDaid, Chairperson of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition and Director of Mental Health Reform, said: “We understand that this closure is due to the failure to fill a vacant Consultant Psychiatrist post. In October 2014, Mental Health Reform raised concerns to the Oireachtas Committee on Health and Children about the potential negative impact of difficulties in recruiting and retaining professionals for mental health services. While this risk has been flagged for some time, we are now seeing the closure of a service due to inability to attract suitably qualified staff.”

“The Minister of State for Primary and Social Care and the Minister for Health urgently need to review their policy on staff terms and conditions in order to ensure that vital services are adequately staffed. As of December 2014, community CAMHS teams had just over half (51.6%) of the staff they needed and there is no doubt that these gaps in services will be putting a strain on the families of children with specific mental health needs”, Ms McDaid concluded.

Children’s Mental Health Coalition report highlights need for better coordination between agencies supporting children’s mental health

Getting access to mental health services and supports for children and young people in distress can be confusing, according to a report launched today (26/03/2015) by the Children’s Mental Health Coalition, a coalition that includes 53 organisations.

The report, Meeting the mental health support needs of children and adolescents, highlights gaps in mental health services and supports for children and young people, including staff shortages in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS). It was launched by the Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon and produced by Mental Health Reform, whose Director Dr Shari McDaid is the current Chair of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition.

Speaking at the launch Dr Shari McDaid said: “Unfortunately, despite additional resources that have been put into CAMHS services in the last few years, community teams are struggling to cope with increased demand. Government investment has resulted in an increase of 47 staff in community teams in 2014 alone. Since the launch of A Vision for Change in 2006, there has been a 71% increase in the number of child and adolescent mental health consultant posts. However, at the end of 2014 waiting lists had gone up by 8% and 2,818 children and young people were on waiting lists, with 405 of them waiting for more than a year. During 2014 89 young people (one third of all child and adolescent admissions) had been admitted to adult wards. The UN Committee on Children has called on Ireland to focus on early intervention for children and young people with mental health difficulties but this clearly cannot be done without continued investment in staffing within both primary care and specialist mental health services.”

“This report has also found that there are a bewildering number of agencies involved in children’s mental health care, which can cause confusion at what is already a stressful time for young people and their families. One of the recommendations of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition is that CAMHS should be made more accessible, including through the provision of clear information to young people and their families. This report aims to make practical recommendations to address gaps in services and supports and the Coalition now calls on the relevant Government departments and agencies to work together to ensure that children and young people can get the effective, coordinated mental health care that is their right”, Dr McDaid continued.

Launching the report, Dr Niall Muldoon, Ombudsman for Children, said: “I head an Independent Human Rights Institution, with responsibility for monitoring and promoting human rights and see this report as a vital aid, in understanding the gaps within the services available for this particularly vulnerable group of children and young people.  I very much welcome the recommendation within this Report which seeks to ‘Enhance mental health promotion to increase protective factors and decrease risk factors for developing mental health difficulties’. This move to work “upstream” is probably our best way of reducing the pain and suffering of mental health difficulties in the highest number of people. If we can bring the conversation and the understanding to the widest possible audience, then we are likely to generate early intervention more often and thus reduce the negative impact of long term illness.”

Concluding, Dr Shari McDaid, said: “The Children’s Mental Health Coalition’s vision is that Ireland should be a place where every child’s right to mental health is realised. When we consider that one in three young people is likely to have experienced a mental disorder by the age of 13, it becomes clear just how urgent the need for good quality services and support is.”

Read the eight recommendations of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition here.

CMHC submission on the Department of Children and Youth Affairs’ Statement of Strategy 2015 – 2017.

On 28th October, the Children’s Mental Health Coalition made a submission to the Department of Children and Youth Affairs on the Department’s Statement of Strategy 2015 – 2017.

The Children’s Mental Health Coalition recommends that the Statement of Strategy include commitments to:

– ensure that every child in Ireland is provided with education on how to look after their mental health and seek help when they are experiencing mental or emotional distress

– improve the mental well-being of children and young people during the period of the Strategy

– work with other Government departments and agencies to ensure the timely, appropriate and equitable access to mental health services, supports and therapeutic interventions, particularly for children and young people in the care and youth justice system

– inter-departmental collaboration to ensure the effective implementation of aftercare plans and supports for children and young people in care, and

– in terms of young people in the care and youth justice system, the Statement of Strategy should make a specific commitment to expanding the Assessment, Consultation and Therapy service (ACTS) to meet the unmet need.

You can read the full submission here.

CMHC submission on the national guidelines for mental health promotion and well being in primary schools

In October 2014, the Children’s Mental Health Coalition made a submission to National Educational Psychological Service on the national guidelines for mental health promotion and well being in primary schools. You can read our submission here.

Demand is outstripping new resources in children’s mental health services – Children’s Mental Health Coalition

The Children’s Mental Health Coalition has today welcomed the publication of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) Annual Report and called for the continuing development of mental health services for young people to keep pace with growing demand.

Dr Shari McDaid, Chairperson of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition, said: “the growing demand for mental health services for children and adolescents is clear from this report, with 21% more referrals accepted in the period October 2012 to September 2013 than in the previous 12 months.”

“Credit is due to the Government and the HSE for investing in the development of community-based mental health services for children and adolescents. Last year saw the first significant recruitment of multidisciplinary staff to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Teams, with a net increase of 70 staff. We can see the positive impact of these staff in the increase in children seen by mental health professionals. The HSE needs to maintain momentum because community team  staffing is still 66% less than recommended”, Dr McDaid continued.

“We know that early intervention is key to good outcomes. We learned in 2013 that young people in Ireland experience higher rates of mental disorder than young people elsewhere in Europe or the USA, according to research by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland. Therefore, it is vital that appropriate services are available to children and young people who need them, when they need them. We are deeply concerned that in 2013 children and adolescents continued to be inappropriately admitted to adult wards, with 68 such admissions in the first nine months of last year, including three children of fourteen years of age. The Children’s Mental Health Coalition is looking to the HSE to ensure that, when necessary, children are placed in age-appropriate units, as required by the Mental Health Commission”, Dr McDaid concluded.

Ends

Note to editor

The Children’s Mental Health Coalition is made up of more than 50 organisations, united by the vision that Ireland should be one of the best places in the world to be a child, where every child’s right to mental health is realised. See http://www.childrensmentalhealth.ie/.

Mental Health Reform is the current chair of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition.

Media contact: Lara Kelly, Communications and Campaigns Officer, Mental Health Reform: mobile (087) 6189715, emaillkelly@mentalhealthreform.ie

Mental health needs of vulnerable children not being met

“I trust nobody. And these are things that I don’t want to own. I don’t want to own these feelings…I wasn’t taught how to…I had to learn how to love myself. And these are things that proper counselling could have given me.”

“I could have been so much more…I didn’t reach my full potential because of all the issues I had.”

“You knew where you stood with her [the social worker]…She was just, she was stability…She was kind of my beacon she was. She’d always know what I was doing, where I was going, how I was feeling and she was my coping mechanism really, and I owe a lot of my kind of success and how well I’ve done to her.”

Young adults interviewed for the report Someone to Care

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald will today (11/07/2013) launch the Children’s Mental Health Coalition report, Someone to Care: the mental health needs of children and young people in the care and youth justice system.

Orla Barry, Director of Mental Health Reform and incoming Chair of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition, said: “While we welcome the positive developments, including the establishment of the Child and Family Agency and the Assessment, Consultation and Therapy Service (ACTS), this report marks what we hope will be the beginning of a process. It identifies the imperative need for a joined up system that really addresses the mental health needs of young people in care and in the youth justice system.

“One of the strongest messages from the young people interviewed in this report, reinforced by the professionals we consulted, is the need for stability and continuity in care. Stability is often missing from their lives and yet the overwhelming message is that if they could develop a single trusting relationship, the impact would be enormous. This means we need the different agencies working with the young people to comprehensively and effectively work together.

“The insights shared by the eight young adults who contributed to this report highlight the importance of listening to those with recent experience of the care and youth justice systems. They have shown remarkable resilience and are taking steps to move forward in their lives. Consulting children and young people currently in the care and justice systems about their needs is crucial to the development of the right mental health supports in order to better futures not just for them, but for society as whole.”

Lead author of Someone to Care, Dr Rosaleen McElvaney said: “This report acknowledges that while the challenges of providing high quality care are considerable, there is a clear need for a shared understanding and common language. For example, many young people are involved with the youth justice system due to mental health difficulties that are left unaddressed. We need a process that diverts them towards community services that address their needs. Earlier intervention and support will lead to better outcomes for all involved.

Someone to care makes recommendations outlining examples of best practice, based on interviews with young people and professionals involved in the systems, international evidence and the international human rights framework.”

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald, TD, added: “The development of the Child and Family Agency and ACTS demonstrates the Department of Children’s commitment to addressing the mental health needs of children and young people in the care and youth justice systems. We welcome the publication of this report, which will inform our continuing efforts in this area.”

Note to editors

Read Someone to care: the mental health needs of children and young people with experience of the care and youth justice systems.

Background

The Children’s Mental Health Coalition is chaired by Mental Health Reform and has 50 member organisations from a range of backgrounds and sectors, including children’s rights, human rights, education and mental health services. It calls on Government to ensure that:

▪ That coherent policy is developed and implemented to meet the particular mental health and emotional needs of children in the youth justice system and children in the care system, as well as other particularly vulnerable children.

▪ That senior responsibility is assigned within the Department of Education and Skills to develop policy on how mental health and emotional well-being addressed in the education system at preschool, primary and post-primary level. A key focus is ensuring the inter-departmental guidelines on mental health in second level schools are used to develop a road map for schools and a support structure on how to implement a “whole-school approach” to mental health as well clear referral pathways for students.

▪ The delivery of the full complement of child and adolescent community mental health teams promised under A Vision for Change, so that no child is denied timely access to such teams.

The Coalition member organisations include: Alcohol Action Ireland, Association of Secondary Teachers Ireland (ASTI), Barnardos, Bodywhys: The Eating Disorders Association of Ireland, Border Counties Childcare Network, CARI Foundation, Children in Hospital Ireland, Children’s Rights Alliance, College of Psychiatry in Ireland, Dáil na nÓg, Disability Federation Ireland, Educate Together, EPIC (Empowering Young People in Care), Family Breakdown Support Services, Foróige, Headstrong: the National Centre for Youth Mental Health, Focus Ireland, Home-Start National Office, 22Q11 Ireland, Irish Association of University and College Counsellors, Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU), Irish National Council for ADHD Support Groups (INCADHD), Inclusion Ireland, Inspire Ireland, Integrating Ireland, Irish National Teachers Organisation (INTO), Irish Association of Social Workers, Irish Branch of the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health, Irish Penal Reform Trust, Irish Primary Principals Network, Irish Refugee Council, Irish Second Level Students’ Union, ISPCC, Mater Child & Adolescent Mental Health Service, Mental Health Reform, Miss Carr’s Children’s Services, Mothers Union, Mounttown Neighbourhood Youth and Family Project, National Association for Parents Support, National Association of Principals and Deputy Principals, National Parents Council, National Youth Council of Ireland, One in Four, Pavee Point, Psychiatric Nurses Association, Society of St. Vincent de Paul, Spunout, St. Patrick’s University, Hospital, The Base (Youth Centre), The Peter McVerry Trust, The Psychological Society of Ireland, Young Ballymun, Youth Advocate Programmes Ireland and Youth Health Programme.

Someone to Care report launch

We are delighted to announce the Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Frances Fitzgerald TD will be launching the Children’s Mental Health Coalition’s new report, Someone to care: the mental health needs of children and young people in the care and youth justice systems on Thursday 11 July.

The report will be launched at 11.15am in St Stephen’s Green Hibernian Club, 9 St Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2.

Following the launch there will be an opportunity to discuss the report with lead author, Dr Rosaleen McElvaney, Coalition Coordinator Róisín Webb and Orla Barry, Director of Mental Health Reform and incoming Chair of the Children’s Mental Health Coalition.

For full details see invitation below. Click here to register to attend the event.

Someone to care launch invitation

Someone to care launch invitation