New strategy to boost youth mental health
LONDONDERRY’S child health chief Kieran Downey says an emotional wellbeing strategy will help protect local young people from harm, improve functioning, and strengthen families.
Kieran Downey Western Trust Director of Women’s and Children’s Services added: “The Trust through this strategy is making a commitment to ensuring an emphasis is placed on positive emotional health very early in life which will in turn improve health outcomes, life expectancy, educational and economic outcomes and reduce crime and violence.
“Untreated mental health problems create enormous distress for children, young people, their families and carers, and this negative impact continues into later life, affecting future generations.”
He made the comments as the Western Trust launched its Emotional Wellbeing Strategy which encompasses the infant mental health strategy, and is aimed at children and young people from pregnancy to the age of 19 years.
The new strategy will build on an infant mental health strategy that is already promoting zero tolerance of smoking and alcohol during pregnancy, attachment-focused behaviour in pregnancy, breast-feeding and reading to infants.
Mr Gerard Guckian said: “Positive emotional health and wellbeing in infants, children and young people is essential to enable them to do well in later life. Emotionally resilient children and young people are more able to deal with difficulties in their lives and cope with uncertainty.
“They are likely to do better at school, to have good relationships with family and friends. They are less likely to take unnecessary risks or behave in an anti-social way. “I commend the Western Trust staff who have taken the initiative to create this strategy and whose dedication will make it a reality. It will make a real difference.”
Deirdre Mahon, Assistant Director for Family and Child Care, Western Trust added: “Research shows that relationships, particularly with family, are most important for children and young people’s wellbeing, alongside a sense of freedom, choice and autonomy for young people.
“Life events also impact on emotional health. We want to improve emotional health and wellbeing for all children and young people throughout the West. Emotionally healthy children are able to develop and learn through their good or bad feelings and experiences, make friends, enjoy their own company and play and have fun.”
This strategy complements the Trust’s existing Infant Mental Health Strategy which was launched last year and supports the early year’s intervention ethos of the Trust.
To download a copy of the strategy go to the Western Trust’s website on: http://www.westerntrust.hscni.net/livewell/Health_Improvement_Resources.htm.
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