HOPE A Follow-up to the NICCY Conference on Suicide and Self-Harm

In this section you will find:

  • Our action since 22nd February
  • An Evaluation of the HOPE Conference
  • Links to key resources
  • Where you can get help

Our Action since 22nd February

On 22nd February NICCY brought together young people, community and voluntary groups, policy makers and influencers to explore the issues surrounding suicide and self-harm.

At the conference, in his keynote speech, the Commissioner, Nigel Williams, pledged to report back on the action we at NICCY have been undertaking in this area.

In the intervening three months we have been examining closely the issues, and the NICCY team, led by Head of Research, Policy and Service Review, Teresa Devlin, has met a range of individuals and organisations working in the area of young people’s mental health. Those meetings revealed common themes and areas of concern. These included:

  • There is a huge amount of good work going on, across Northern Ireland by voluntary, community and statutory organisations who are working with children and young people to promote positive mental health, and prevent self harm and suicide.
  • A lot of the work carried out by the Voluntary and Community Sector is based on short term funding.
  • Northern Ireland is a small place, yet strategies, services etc differ significantly across Health and Social Services Boards and Trusts.
  • There are at least four major strategies/pieces of work which impact upon children and young people’s mental health. These are:
    • Promoting Mental Health
    • “Making it R Wrld2”
    • Review of Learning Disability and Mental Health
    • Strategy for Mental Health and Looked After Children
  • Concerns have been expressed through NICCY’s Complaints team that adequate provision is not always available, particularly around therapeutic interventions and inpatient provision.

NICCY believes that another strategy would not be the best way forward at this time. We believe that an action plan with the right level of resources will help address many concerns and will help deliver the actions under the Promoting Mental Health Strategy and the forthcoming review by Professor Bamford of Mental Health and Learning Disability which is due to be published in July 2005.

Self Harm and suicide are the manifestations of distress. It is important that we tackle the underlying causes of the distress, and the approach adopted must be to offer support to children and young people, as appropriate throughout their lives, not just at the point of crisis. NICCY would like to see the appropriate allocation of resources for early intervention support for young people who suffer from poor mental health, impulsive and/or risk taking behaviour; including early assessment, diagnosis and therapy.

We have requested meetings with Government Ministers, and had hoped that we would have been able to report on these for May 22nd, but the election and appointment of a new team of ministers has meant this has been delayed.

At future meetings and in correspondence we will be delivering these messages, emphasising the need for adequate resources now, as well as the need for a longer term view. This will include areas such as:

  • family support;
  • whole school/listening schools;
  • therapeutic provision for children who have been abused;
  • Targeted support for boys and young men who, for a variety of reasons, feel inhibited about sharing their worries adequate child and adolescent psychiatrists; adequate assessments; and
  • Support within A&E departments when young people present with self-harming behaviour

Since the conference we have met with representatives from a range of Statutory, Voluntary and Community organisations. Our actions will continue to support the good work ont he ground and we will lobby to ensure young people’s mental health remains a priority for government, for the community, for public services and for everyone at NICCY.

22nd May 2005

An Evaluation of the HOPE Conference

Click here to view the evaluation

Links to key resources

Where you can get help

If you know of other useful resources that should appear here, or are an organisation working in this field send us your link to communications@niccy.org