10 Oct 2007

Listen to the voice of children and young people

CHILDREN and young people’s voices need to be heard in planning mental health services, the Children’s Commissioner, Patricia Lewsley said today as she marked World Mental Health Day.

Ms Lewsley made the call as she received suggestions from young people on practical steps that can be made in the classroom for improvements to support emotional resilience.

“Today, as part of World Mental Health Day Newtownabbey Shadow Youth Council presented me with four key actions which schoolchildren have proposed to help improve young people’s mental health,” said the Commissioner.

The theme of World Mental Health Day 2007 is “Mental Health in a Changing World” and Ms Lewsley said her challenge to Government was to make sure children and young people’s voice was heard in that changing world.

“The Newtownabbey Shadow Youth Council report comes from an event at which 100 schoolchildren made suggestions on improving services. I plan to use this document as part of the evidence I present to Ministers to help improve services.

“It contains the ideas, thoughts and real practical suggestions that can be implemented quickly to help make sure there are real improvements.” 

Newtownabbey Shadow Youth Council Mayor, Kirsty Bell said: 

“This report contains the genuine voice of children and young people and I hope that the Commissioner is able to help us communicate the ideas to Government and the Executive in turn takes on board the young people’s suggestions.”

Notes for Editors

  • More information on the work of the Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People can be found here on the web site 
  • A photograph will be available from 1.30pm, on request from NICCY
  • The report from Newtownabbey Youth Council’s event is currently unavailable.
  • World Mental Health Day has been celebrated annually on 10 October since 1992. The theme for 2007 is, Mental health in a changing world: the impact of culture and diversity. Further details are available at: http://wfmh.com
  • The top 4 suggestions from pupils contained in the report are:

1. Increased presence in schools of mentors. These mentors could possibly be students or volunteers from the community.

2. Increased use of relaxation and alternative therapies, in particular through schools, during exams.

3. Mini community directory or resource pack to be given to every student.

4. More work with parents and carers to the educate them on the issues of stress and mental illness, to offer support and increase positive parenting.