23 May 2005

The Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Nigel Williams, today highlighted the crisis in our mental health services and called for resources to be made available to help stem the tragedy of suicide and self harm affecting many young people.

Earlier this year Mr Williams hosted a major conference on suicide and self harm, and pledged then to publicly update those attending on his action since – with full details on www.niccy.org.

The Commissioner said he and his team had come across many positive projects in the area, but equally there was a worrying lack of resources including funding for the many voluntary and community groups providing valuable and much-needed services.

”I am extremely concerned that the mental health of our children and young people is provided with the right resources at the right time,” he said. “Too many of the projects in the community which deal with the real distress felt by children and young people rely on short-term funding.

“Each project waits every year to see if funding is renewed, and the people working to support the mental health of our young people worry that the lifeline they are providing may be cut off.”

Mr Williams and his team have met with senior policy makers and professionals as well as the voluntary and community sector.

“In February NICCY brought together more than 100 young people, with the adults who set policy and take decisions on child and adolescent mental health services,” he said. “The message from the young people was clear – provide the help that is needed for their peers and don’t waste time.

“I know that there are several significant reviews underway that will help develop child and adolescent mental health services. What we now need is properly resourced implementation over a number of years of these plans, with proper emphasis given to prevention, work in the community, and sufficient psychiatric provision. Only this kind of integrated approach will ensure that young people's mental health needs are given the priority they deserve."

“I pledged then that I will keep that who attended the conference and those involved in this field updated and that is why today on www.niccy.org are full details of our work to date as well as an evaluation of the conference.”

If your group/organisation works within the area of prevention of self harm and youth suicide and would like to your contact details placed on the NICCY site, please call the Communications and Participation Department on 028 90 311616