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Mental health advocates call for action two years on from the Taskforce on Youth Mental Health

Thursday, December 12th, 2019


Two years on from the publication of the Report of the Taskforce on Youth Mental Health, a number of organisations and individuals who work with children and young people have called for the report’s recommendations to be implemented in full to improve the mental health and wellbeing of young people in Ireland and help to address Ireland’s mental health crisis. 

Mental Health ReformISPCC, BeLonG To Youth Services and, as well as Professor Mary Cannon (RCSI) and Dr. Tony Bates, are calling for action on the recommendations of the Taskforce, which were accepted by Government in December 2017. The specific recommendations on which action is being sought relate to advocacy, law reform, awareness, mental health supports, accessibility and alignment of services, consent issues and research.  

The organisations and individuals have highlighted how children and young people have been hugely impacted by delays in access and lack of resources in mental health services in Ireland, at a time when waiting lists for mental health services in the country are extremely high. The recommendations contained within the Taskforce report present an opportunity to support children and young people through education, primary care, mental health services and improved legislation. 

Director of Mental Health Reform, Dr Shari McDaid, said, “We are concerned that the Government has not adequately progressed the recommendations of the Taskforce report and in particular the failure of the Government to deliver extra services to address the mental health crisis in Budget 2020. Two thirds of the increase of €39M announced in Budget 2020 for mental health will go towards pay increases and addressing existing levels of service, and not towards new developments that are desperately needed. The remaining €13M will go towards staffing the new National Forensic Mental Health Service in Portrane, which while welcome, will do nothing to help the more than 2,400 children and young people waiting for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services across the country. 

We urge the Government to revisit the inadequate allocation for mental health announced in Budget 2020 in the revised estimates due to be debated today. Dr. McDaid concluded. 

ISPCC CEO John Church said: “While the ISPCC welcomes the progress which has been made over the past year with regard to a number of the recommendations of the Taskforce on Youth Mental Health, the success of several of the recommendations are dependent on the implementation of the Youth Mental Health Pathfinder. This Pathfinder project is crucial to opening up a more collective approach to youth mental health, facilitating the working together of several key departments; Department of Health, Department of Children and Youth Affairs, Department of Education and the Department of An Taoiseach. The delay in the establishment of this initiative is a cause for concern and we are calling on Minister Donohue to take the necessary action within his Department to address any roadblocks. 

“The Pathfinder project could be a hugely positive initiative with the potential to make a real difference in responding to issues of youth mental health. It is imperative that Pathfinder be established as a matter of priority in order to facilitate progress with further significant recommendations of the Taskforce, including that a National Lead for Youth Mental Health and a lead for Youth Mental Health for each Community Health Organisation (CHO) be appointed, that a national youth advocacy service be established and that focussed research in the area of youth mental health be conducted.” 



Notes to Editors: 

The Youth Mental Health Taskforce report can be found here 

For more information, contact: 

Sarah Bermingham, ISPCC Communications Co-Ordinator, on 087 3157552 

Ray Burke, Senior Communications and Advocacy Officer, Mental Health Reform, 086 171 1920 


About Youth Mental Health Pathfinder 

The Youth Mental Health Pathfinder is an inter-departmental initiative. It is a project that is an internal process designed to effectively collaborate across departments on an issue that spans more than one department, i.e. youth mental health. The Government picked this topic to be one of the three-high-profile pathfinder projects at the heart of its Civil Service renewal Plan (2014). One of the asks of the Youth Mental Health Pathfinder project was to try and effectively embed a new model of cross-government working using Section 12 of the Public Service Management Act 1997.  

(from ) 


About Mental Health Reform 

Mental Health Reform is the national coalition promoting improved mental health services and the social inclusion of people with mental health difficulties. The coalition currently has over 70 member organisations. See for more details. Mental Health Reform acknowledges the support of the Department of the Environment, Community and Local Government’s Scheme to Support National Organisations 2016-2019. 

About ISPCC 

The ISPCC (Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children) is the national child protection charity, delivering innovative child-centred services in a number of locations throughout Ireland.  

Childline is Ireland’s only 24-hour listening service for children and young people. It is free, confidential and non-judgmental and provides support to children and young people across Ireland. 

The ISPCC Support Line provides a confidential listening service, offering information, advice and emotional support to all members of the public who contact us, on any issue in relation to child protection and welfare. 

The ISPCC Mentoring Programme provides mentoring services to parents and young people. The programme aims to create a mentoring relationship between a young person or a parent and a trained adult volunteer, through which support can be provided and new opportunities for growth explored. 

The ISPCC’s Child and Family Support Service provides a one-to-one child-centred service for children and young people in their own home or place of the child’s choosing. 

About BeLonG To Youth Services 

BeLonG To Youth Services provides free youth groups, one-to-one support services and advice for LGBTI+ young people across Ireland. Visit: 

About is Ireland’s youth information website created by young people, for young people. On we provide information on a range of different topics broken down into sections; education, employment, health, life and opinion. 


Any child or young person in Ireland, who would like to talk about any issue on their mind, can contact: 

Childline – Ireland’s national 24-hour listening service for children and young people. Call 1800 66 66 66 (24 hours a day), text to 50101, chat online at 

BeLonG To – BeLonG To provides free youth groups, one-to-one support and advice for LGBTI+ young people. Visit: 

Jigsaw – Jigsaw is a free mental health service which provides face-to-face support for young people. Visit: 

Pieta House – Pieta is a free support service providing face-to-face counselling and phone support to people who are thinking about suicide, or who are self-harming. Call: 1800 247 247. Visit: