Ireland has youngest population in Europe who are struggling with unemployment and emigration
Monday October 10th is World Mental Health Day* which aims to raise public awareness about mental health issues. The day promotes open discussion on mental health, and investments in prevention, promotion and services.
This year the theme is "investing in mental health" and according to Manus Hanratty, the new CEO of the SpunOut.ie National Youth Organisation, Ireland needs to wake up and take action to address the youth mental health crisis facing our country.
Ireland has the youngest population in Europe with 40% under 25 and according to Manus Hanratty there is an urgent need to invest in the younger generation if we are to build a sustainable, inclusive and happy society.
"There is a lot of talk about young people being our future. However our youth are now suffering massively from the devastating economic turn-down resulting in cut backs in education, youth unemployment rates of 30%, and up to 1000 people per week emigrating. There is a growing feeling of hopelessness which is leading to increasing levels of alcohol and drug abuse, anti-social behaviour, homelessness, mental health problems and suicide."
SpunOut.ie is one of the country's most popular youth initiatives and reaches over 50,000 users per month, a figure which is rising rapidly. SpunOut.ie provides online information and signposting to services for young people and runs campaigns, training, grants and events that inspire young people to get involved in making a difference.
Despite winning awards including a HSE Achievement Award and an Eircom Golden Spider for Best Charity Website, the organisation says it can be difficult to get the investment required to meet young people's needs.
"Investment in young people benefits us all. However it is diminishing whilst the demand for services like ours keeps increasing in response to growing issues like suicide, depression, self-harm, eating disorders and unemployment. As a country we have a responsibility and a vested interest in nurturing and supporting our young people to ensure they reach their full potential and live happy healthy lives. At a time when Ireland needs the talent and energy of its young people to help transform the country there must be meaningful strategic action towards investing in young people."
On October 15th SpunOut.ie is hoping to hear the views of the Presidential candidates on youth mental health and related issues when it hosts 200 young people at the 'Presidential Youth Forum' at Dublin Contemporary 2011. The event will be broadcast live online at 3pm and more information is available from www.SpunOut.ie.