Mental Health Must be a Priority for All

14 February 2024

Chris Quinn, Northern Ireland Commissioner for Children and Young People has welcomed the restoration of the NI Assembly and emphasises that the mental wellbeing of children and young people must be a priority for all decision makers.

“Reflecting on the issues raised during Children’s Mental Health Week and its important focus of listening to children’s voices on mental health experiences, it is incumbent on us all to work to ensure that children and adolescent mental health is now prioritised by the Northern Ireland institutions.

“I warmly welcomed the long-awaited restoration of the NI Assembly and Executive last week, as this will provide sorely needed resources and stability to the health and social care system, and help develop better support systems and outcomes for children and young people.”

“However, I remain concerned that children and young people are still experiencing significant delays in understanding and accessing  mental health services, which continues to cause further stress and anxiety. This is an issue that I will be raising with the Minister of Health urgently.

“In line with this year’s theme for Children’s Mental Health Week – My Voice Matters – it is important to highlight the importance of listening to and learning from the experiences and views of children and young people on existing mental health supports and services and what could be improved.

“Young people have also shared their concerns with me about the still-existing stigma of speaking about mental health and anxiety, of looking out for their friends and family, and the uncertainty of getting support through the healthcare system, or within school settings.

“Engagement with young people is critical in helping to shape future support programmes. Mental health services embrace an ethos of openness, understanding and acceptance which can help secure early intervention and protection, protecting the right to health for all children and young people in Northern Ireland.”