Scroll down to find out more about this issue - including a summary for children and young people, background information including the relevant Children's Rights, how we are monitoring Government and our work in addressing the issue.

NICCY Dudes Health

Summary for children and young people

Children and Young People’s health is a priority area for NICCY. It is one of the top things young people tell us they want to talk about, and is also an area where they feel more needs to be done to support young people. NICCY gets feedback from its Youth Panel on all the areas NICCY advises government on and mental health and emotional wellbeing is one of them.

NICCY has worked on Coronavirus and how it might be affecting your health, education and where to get the latest advice.  We have also reviewed Health Waiting lists for children and young people for treatment.

One of the top concerns is your Mental Health.  NICCY has produced a report called ‘Still Waiting’ and is holding government to account on an action plan.  The NICCY Youth Panel, in partnership with the Northern Ireland Youth Forum and Belfast City Council Youth Forum has worked to produce a mental health advocacy toolkit for young people, titled “Heads Up!”.  It’s a mental health toolkit – made by young people, for young people – and will help young people run their own mental health projects where their live

Proposal to Isolate Sick School Children Worrying - Cover Sick Child

Information on health

Delay in access to good quality healthcare for physical and mental health can have a profound impact on all aspects of a child’s life due to their age and developmental stage, and the impact worsens the longer they wait.


Health Rights and the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child 

The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC) takes a holistic approach to health, in that the underlying determinants of health are recognised, and rights relate to the whole continuum of health from prevention and health promotion to intervention and rehabilitation.  

Relevant Children's Rights

Views from young people

Monitoring Government – what is government doing to address the health of children and young people?

During the last 4 years NICCY’s health policy work has focused on children and young people’s access to health services and producing recommendation that focus on the development of a Child Rights-Based Health and Social Care System – ‘Still Waiting’ focused on access to mental health services and support and ‘More Than a Number’ focused on child health waiting lists for hospital and community care.

Both areas of work have assessed the systems response to children’s health needs using a Rights framework, particularly, the UNCRC. These Reviews have placed children and young people’s (and parents/carers) voices at the centre and have included monitoring processes to track progress in the implementation of the recommendations.

Detailed monitoring updates on each of these pieces of work are available from dedicated webpages on the NICCY’s website. However, in short theses reviews demonstrate the need for targeted investment and reform of the child health and social care system, and for government to take the lead role in driving this forward.

Our work on health

Mental Health 

Poor mental health is one of the most preventable forms of ill-health in children.

1 in 8 children and young people in Northern Ireland have an emotional disorder such as anxiety or depression, and rates of common mental health problems are 25% higher in NI compared to other parts of the UK.  NICCY has invested significant resource and time over the last 4-5 years to advise and monitor Government’s response to ‘Still Waiting’ – a rights-based review that was shaped by children and young people’s experiences of accessing or trying to access mental health services and support.

NICCY has also ensured that the findings and recommendations from Still Waiting are informing all relevant work being taken forward by Government Departments.

You can find out more about our Still Waiting work here.

Our work on Physical Health 

It has long been the case that Northern Ireland has some of the longest health waiting times of all regions in the UK, and that children are being greatly impacted by this, but the extent of the waits and which child health services are most impacted has been less clear.

In October 2021, NICCY published ‘More Than A Number’- A Rights Based Review of Child Health Waiting Lists. This Review was conducted in recognition of the need for much greater transparency and focus on the extent of waiting lists across child health services, and clarity on the steps being taken to address this growing problem.  

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