16 May 2007

Welcome for mental health and learning disability board

THE Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, has said the proposed mental health and learning disability board must listen to children and young people.

Welcoming the decision of Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety, Michael McGimpsey, to create the board, Ms Lewsley said it was an important step forward to support young people.

“The review of mental health and learning disability recommended the appointment of a director to represent these areas,” said the Commissioner. “While the failure to appoint a director is disappointing the minister’s proposed board is a welcome step.

“However, it is vital that children and young people are represented on the new board, not just consulted with. The board must actively involve children and young people through hearing their views, recommendations and opinions.”

Ms Lewsley said she welcomed the minister’s commitments to increase the available in-patient beds but expressed concern that past promises had been broken.

“We at NICCY have heard first hand from children and young people who have contacted our office in desperation while waiting for in-patient beds, despite being in immediate danger.

“Delays in staff appointments – in some cases for two-years – while understandable, are not an acceptable excuse to young people whose lives are in crisis.

“I hope that the new facilities and new community support and intervention teams are in place as soon as possible.

“I have asked for an early meeting with the minister to discuss this and other areas in which his department can help support the health and wellbeing of children and young people.”