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Get on Board

One of the positive things about an election campaign, apart from any of the parties’ campaigns, is chance is gives groups to highlight particular issues which members of all parties can endorse but can often be forgotten. A very good example of that this year was the Get on Board campaign highlighting the need to tackle youth mental health. It has been a particular issue since the recession, as the despair of joblessness accentuates the problems of mental health. But it was a serious and hidden problem during the boom years as well.

The campaign has highlighted five key facts:

  1. At least 1 in 5 young people in Ireland are experiencing a mental health problem at any one time.
  2. In any given year, at least 1 in 10 young people in Ireland will self-harm.
  3. International studies are now showing that as many as 1 in 2 of us will experience a mental health difficulty at some point, and we know that the huge majority of these problems begin by age 24.
  4. 60% of young people report that they would not seek help from a mental health professional if they had problems.
  5. Over 80 % of young people in Ireland use or would use the Internet as a source of mental health info – so we’re using the internet to get our message out!

Mental health is an important issue at all stages in life, but as with anything, the earlier addressed, the better to prevent long-term problems.

For those who have mental health difficulties or know someone who could benefit from help, Get on Board acts as an umbrella campaign group for four organizations:

  • Reach Out
    Reach Out is a web-based service that inspires young people to help themselves through tough times and find ways to improve their own mental health and well-being.
  • Foróige
    Foróige is the leading youth organisation in Ireland, working with approximately 50,000 young people aged 10-18 every year through volunteer-led clubs and staff-led youth projects.
  • Belong To
    BeLonG To is a national organisation for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered (LGBT) young people, aged between 14 and 23.
  • Headstrong
    Headstrong was established four years ago with a vision where young people feel connected to their community and have the resilience to face challenges to their mental health.

Candidates from all party have got on board. This campaign has to continue in the weeks till 9 March, to make sure it is highlighted in the Program for Government, and further during the years of government itself.

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