1 Oct 2010

The Commissioner takes a stand to combat stigma of mental ill health in children and young people.

COMMISSIONER for Children and Young People, Patricia Lewsley, today expressed serious concerns about the high level of mental ill health among children and young people in Northern Ireland.

The Commissioner said that, a further investigation is needed into what affects young people's mental wellbeing.

Ms Lewsley warned that too little information is available for those planning the provision and services for them.

"Government departments and service providers must work together to find out why one fifth of our young people suffer from mental ill health. The research needs to be gathered and disseminated to all professionals who treat and support them.

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"One of the greatest barriers is the lack of accurate figures and information detailing the mental health needs of young people," said Ms Lewsley. "This is preventing effective service planning and provision, which is desperately needed."

"As part of my Make it Right campaign I hope that children and young people will act now to help make it right for children and young people with mental ill health."

The Commissioner said she was also worried that mental health issues were too often avoided in everyday life because of the stigma attached to it.

"For too long mental illness has been stigmatised to such an extent that children, young people and their parents and carers have felt unable to discuss it," she said.

"Only when we break down these barriers can we support those who need help and have an open, honest debate in society about how best to provide the most appropriate services when they are needed the most."