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22nd Nov 2018

Irish young people suffer from a lack of professional training in mental health

Jade Hayden

mental health month

80 percent of youth workers in Ireland say that a lack of training has become challenging when it comes to young people with mental health issues.

Almost all (96 percent) believe that mental training and education is necessary for youth worker staff members, with one respondent stating that they needed the “tools” to work with those who are struggling.

This comes as the National Youth Council of Ireland launch their National Youth Health Programme Strategic Plan for 2018-2022 in a bid to make Ireland a “healthier” place for young people.

Minister of State at the Department of Health Catherine Byrne said that strategy aimed to build on the work the council (NYCI) has been doing for the past few years.

She said:

“Health promotion in the youth sector is key to helping young people live happy, healthy and fulfilled lives, and to develop the skills they need to deal with the ups and downs that come their way.

“It is so important to encourage our young people to participate in physical activity and make healthy choices, and to support them to have healthy relationships and enjoy positive mental health.”

Anxiety was named as the predominant mental health issue facing young people, with stress, and body image also being key concerns.

As well as mental health, the strategy also focused on issues of porn and physical activity.

The vast majority of social workers said that they believed pornography influenced the sexual health of young people in Ireland, with most saying that it provided them with unrealistic expectations.

The main issues raised included pornography not teaching young people about emotion during sex, foreplay, or consent.

Participants also expressed concern for the mental wellbeing of young people as they struggle to mimic the sexual activity they see in porn.

Concerns surrounding young men’s attitudes towards women also arose, with many youth workers feeling they weren’t trained to speak to young people about these issues appropriately.

The NYCI strategy aims to drive change over the next five years.

Their areas of focus will be the provision of evidence based training and tools for those working with young people in Ireland, and overall attention to wellbeing outside of the classroom.

The NYCI’s National Youth Health Programme Strategic Plan can be accessed in full here.