Comhairle na nÓg The national parliament for young people
Friday, 27th November 2015 in Croke Park, Dublin

Press Area

Friday, 15th November 2013
Croke Park, Dublin

DÁIL NA NÓG CALLS FOR NATIONAL MENTAL HEALTH GATHERING FOR SECOND LEVEL STUDENTS

200 delegates, aged 12-17, today took part in Dáil na nÓg 2013 and voted as their top recommendation the need for a national mental health gathering for second level students, with music and events to improve attitudes towards mental health.

The young delegates spent the day discussing all aspects of mental health including topics such as Leaving Cert reform, exam pressure, bullying, cyber bullying, peer pressure, sex education, abuse of drugs and alcohol and other issues.

From 20 recommendations, they took part in three rounds of voting to reach a final conclusion.

This top recommendation will be followed up over the next two years by the Comhairle na nÓg National Executive and they will work with the relevant Government departments and agencies to make this recommendation a reality. The Executive is comprised of one young person from each of the 34 Comhairle na nÓg.

Opening the event, Frances Fitzgerald TD, Minister for Children and Youth Affairs said: “Mental health is an issue of acute concern to young people throughout Ireland, which is why you chose it as the topic for discussion at Dáil na nÓg today.”

The Minister went on to say: “I am constantly impressed by the openness with which so many young people talk about mental health and the adult world has much to learn from this approach. I know that many of you are focussing on this issue through initiatives on mental health in your local Comhairle na nÓg”.

“Tackling youth mental health issues is complex and challenging but we do need to address it.  Indeed, one of the reasons for the existence of my Department is ensure a whole-of-government approach to important child and youth issues such as mental health. The mental health area already has a very committed champion in Minister Kathleen Lynch and I wish to acknowledge her work. I recently co-founded the first ever Cross Party Group on Mental Health and I work closely with Amnesty International to help break down the stigmas associated with mental health issues. I have also met Facebook to discuss the issue of Cyber Bullying and I made representations to the Latvian authorities in relation to concerns over ask.fm,” noted the Minister.

Minister Fitzgerald stated: “Today however, I am delighted to hand the discussion on youth mental health over to you. You know best the concerns, issues and worries that are experienced by yourselves and other young people. The Open Space method being used today allows you to set the agenda for the discussion and to make a strong recommendation for action to direct the work of the Comhairle na nÓg National Executive over the next two years”.

Minister Fitzgerald also launched the new Comhairle na nÓg website (www.comhairlenanog.ie), which has improved social media functions to strengthen the appeal of the site to young people and promote the work of the 34 local Comhairle na nÓg.

The Questions and Answers session was chaired by Jim Breslin, Secretary General of the Department of Children and Youth Affairs, during which delegates sought answers from senior policy makers on the issues discussed during the day:

  • Dr. Tony Bates, Director, Headstrong
  • Clive Byrne, Director, National Association of Principals and  Deputy Principals (NAPD)
  • Elaine Geraghty, CEO, ReachOut.com, Inspire Ireland Foundation
  • Stephen Mulvany, National Director of Mental Health, HSE
  • Gerry Raleigh, Director, National Office for Suicide Prevention

For more information, please contact the Department of Children and Youth Affairs Press Office.

Tel: +353 1 647-3019/3130/3075
E-mail: mediadcya@dcya.gov.ie