Northern Ireland news

'Culture of silence' stops young people from accessing mental health services, new report finds

Children from the Youth Mental Health Committee meet at Stormont for the launch of a key report. Picture by Mark Marlow

A 'culture of silence' is preventing thousands of young people in Northern Ireland from accessing mental health services, a new report has found.

The report by the Youth Mental Health Committee found that around 90 per cent of young people believe a mental health awareness campaign is needed.

More than 1,200 young people aged between 14-17 were surveyed.

The committee - comprised of members of the Northern Ireland Youth Forum, Belfast Youth Forum and Youth@clc (the youth advisory panel to the Children's Law Centre) - gathered at Stormont yesterday to launch the report.

The directors of the report called for a youth-led, government-backed mental health campaign, a compulsory programme for all schools and colleges on mental health and wellbeing and a website designed by young people to provide mental health information to their peers.

Committee member Niamh Mallaghan (17) said: "Our campaign means so much to every single person involved for different reasons and now that we have had the chance to work so hard to achieve our aims, it has really shown us what we are capable of doing.

"Our report is only (being) launched and I feel as though we're already changing attitudes and destroying stigma and it's such a rewarding feeling," she said.

"We hope that this campaign will be long running and have the ability to make the change that young people in Northern Ireland need."

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