Vital Investment for Youth Mental Health through PEACEPLUS

Tuesday, 30 April 2024
Pupils from Pobalscoil

Pupils from Pobalscoil

The roll out of the €1.14billion PEACEPLUS Programme continues to gather pace with the announcement this week of €20m for Youth Mental Health and Wellbeing services. 

Northern Ireland has some of the highest levels of mental ill-health among children and young people in Europe.

In 2020 The Youth Wellbeing Survey, funded by the Department of Health, found that rates of anxiety and depression are around 25% higher in the child and youth population in Northern Ireland compared to the rest of the UK.

In Ireland, the 2023 national Children and Young People’s Indicator Set shows a significant decline in the numbers of young people reporting optimal levels of mental health over the past decade, while research by the Economic and Social Research Institute has shown the negative impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic in particular on the mental health of young adults in Ireland.

The reasons for the higher levels of mental ill-health among children and young people here are difficult to determine however the history of violence and the legacy of the conflict is often highlighted as a significant factor.

Research shows that children growing up in areas of conflict demonstrate higher levels of mental ill health and anti-social behaviours. The legacy of the conflict is passed down through intergenerational trauma which impacts on young people’s mental health and wellbeing, their ability to engage with education and their opportunities for employment.

The funding announced today through the PEACEPLUS Programme will support positive interventions aimed at improving the mental health and well-being of thousands of children and young people across Northern Ireland and the border counties.

The funding has been awarded to two projects, “Our Generation”, led by Action Mental Health and “Peace of Mind” led by Verbal.

These projects will make a considerable contribution to peace and reconciliation through a range of cross-community and cross-border youth mental health and wellbeing models; peace and reconciliation focused youth leadership programmes; and programmes which instil confidence in young people to act as agents of change, building peace for future generations.

Welcoming today’s announcement,

Department of Education Minister Paul Givan said: 

“I welcome this investment in youth work initiatives focussing on the mental health of our children and young people. A significant number of our children and young people are facing challenges relating to their mental health and emotional well-being.  There is a clear need for a collective effort to provide learning and support in this area to ensure children and young people can manage these challenges and are happy, ready to learn and are thriving.”   

Roderic O’Gorman, TD, Minister for Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth commented,

 “I am delighted that funding has now been awarded under this important investment area and that work can shortly begin on these excellent initiatives. A dedicated theme to support community activities to promote young people’s mental health and wellbeing is a new and very welcome addition to the programme. It is an addition that promises to have substantial impacts over the long term, including through providing capacity building for those working within the youth sector. I am delighted that my Department is able to support these cross-border and cross-community efforts and I want to congratulate the organisations involved as well as the Special EU Programmes Body for its work over a number of years get us to this point’.

SEUPB Chief Executive Gina McIntyre said:

“We are immensely pleased to make this announcement today. Creating a better future for all our young people is one of the core objectives of the PEACEPLUS Programme. This funding will support children and young people to overcome mental health challenges which are one of the longest and most challenging legacies of the conflict.

This vital funding will support childhood development and help to break that chain of intergenerational trauma through focused interventions which will provide young people with the tools, knowledge and support to care for their mental health.”

Today’s announcements follows previous PEACEPLUS funding awards for youth services including €45m for cross community youth projects and €13m for formal and non-formal shared learning initiatives.

The PEACEPLUS Programme has been designed to promote peace and prosperity across Northern Ireland and the border counties of Ireland, and has a total value of €1.14 billion, to be delivered over the next five years. The Programme will support a wide range of sectors including health and social care, the protection of the environment, rural regeneration, smart towns and villages, local regeneration, and mental health services.

PEACEPLUS is managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and represents a funding partnership between the European Union, the Government of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, the Government of Ireland and the Northern Ireland Executive.

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