Commenting on the launch of the ‘Youth Wellbeing Study NI’, Koulla Yiasouma, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People said,
“I welcome Northern Ireland’s first ever prevalence study on children and young people’s mental health, it is a milestone moment which will enrich our understanding of the scale and nature of mental health problems experienced by our children and young people.
“The current Pandemic has reminded us of the importance of our mental health and wellbeing and this survey further confirms that mental health is a critical public health issue that requires prioritisation by Government.”
Reflecting on the findings of the survey, the Commissioner said,
“It confirms approximately 1 in 8 young people in Northern Ireland experience common mental health disorders, like anxiety and depression, and we know this rises to 1 in 4 once they reach 18 years old. Levels of need are 25% higher than other parts of the UK. We must invest in children’s mental health to give them the best start in life, and prevent a long shadow of poor health that can extend into adulthood.
“While the statistics are quite frankly sobering, there is power in knowledge. The Executive has committed to publishing the first Mental Health Strategy for Northern Ireland in 2021 and this survey provides a sound basis for improving support for children and young people. Behind the statistics are real children and families who have a right to the most appropriate help and support, when they need it.”
The survey was far-reaching, exploring issues that impact on mental health which must be taken into account when planning support and services. Issues included bullying, social media, family relationships, parental mental health, alcohol and drug misuse, poverty and special educational needs.
“My Review of Mental Health Services and Support for Children and Young People in 2018 found a system struggling to meet scale and complexity of need. I made several recommendations concerning the collection of data, including that this survey was completed by March 2020, published soon thereafter and repeated every 3–5 years.
“Whilst there is work to be done, its insights will help reform the design and delivery of services to meet children and young people’s needs and improve their wellbeing. I look forward to continuing to work with colleagues across the system to make sure this new data does just that.”
Notes to Editors