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1 in 4 teens has felt suicidal
[Posted: Tue 07/06/2011 by Deborah Condon www.irishhealth.com]
At least one-quarter of Irish teenagers have felt suicidal at some point, while one in five have self-harmed, a new report from UNICEF Ireland has shown.
The report, Changing the Future: Mental Health, looks specifically at mental health difficulties experienced by teenagers in Ireland, including depression, eating disorders and self-harming.
It found that:
-50% of young people have felt or suffered from depression in the past
-26% have reported feeling suicidal in the past
-20% have self-harmed in the past
-13% have suffered from the eating disorders, anorexia and/or bulimia, in the past.
The report noted that just 14% of Irish teenagers specifically reported that they had not suffered from any of these mental health difficulties in the past. Meanwhile, just 18% who reported their problem to be ongoing said they were receiving any help for it.
"With one in every two young people reporting that they have experienced depression, the scale and importance of the task of promoting positive adolescent mental health should not be underestimated," commented Melanie Verwoerd, executive director of UNICEF Ireland.
She said that it is imperative that these findings are ‘not just reported, but are also understood', especially among stakeholders whose responsibility it is to ensure that positive adolescent mental health is given priority within Ireland's legislative and policy framework.
She noted that the fact that 82% of young people who were still experiencing the problem also reported that they were not receiving any help, professional or otherwise, was of ‘significant concern'.
The report also showed that there is a significantly lower proportion of younger people who report that they are getting help. For example, more than twice as many 19-year-olds reported that they were getting help compared to 17-year-olds.
The report concludes that there is an major gap between the proportion of young people who report that they have experienced different types of mental health problems and the proportion of young people who are in receipt of the appropriate types of assistance. The existence of this gap poses fundamental questions that Ireland must address if our adolescent mental health policy is to meet the needs of young people, UNICEF Ireland insisted.
"No young person should be left to address these issues single-handedly and there is an implicit responsibility upon systems of child protection and care to engage young people at the time that they are experiencing difficulty," Ms Verwoerd said.
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