A New Plan for Mental Health

October 11, 2013

A much maligned aspect of public health, the WHO Director General, Margaret Chan, launched the new Mental Health Action Plan 2013-2020 as one which puts the need for community based care as its centre, with a greater emphasis on human rights. It moves away from the traditional medical model and addresses income generation and education opportunities, housing and social services and other social determinants of mental health in order to ensure a comprehensive response to mental health.

It come in the wake of a research report released by the Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland (RCSI) has shown that Irish young people have higher rates of mental health difficulties as compared with their peers in Europe and the USA, with more than half suffering a significant problem by the age of 24. It also showed that one in five young Irish adults aged 19-24 and one in six young people aged 11-13 are experiencing mental disorder.

The “Mental Health Of Young People in Ireland” report pointed out that suffering psychological stress in early life leaves young people at increased risk during their adult years.

Professor Mary Cannon, who was involved in producing the report, said “For the first time in Ireland, we have evidence that young people who experience mental ill-health during adolescence have higher rates of mental disorders and substance misuse during their young adult years.”

Substance misuse is a factor in the Irish context of mental health – 75% of Irish young people having engaged in binge drinking by their mid-20s – with one in five meeting the criteria for mental health problems linked to this behaviour at some time in their lives.

And with Ireland having the fifth highest youth suicide rate in Europe, with more people dying by suicide each year than on the roads, it is important that mental health loses the stigma associated with it.


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