Thursday, 3 June 2021
Mental Health During and Post Covid-19: Statements
Gino Kenny (Dublin Mid West, People Before Profit Alliance)
I want to focus on children and young people in the context of the public health emergency we have gone through. It has had a terrible effect on that cohort. This week's report from the Irish Youth Foundation, Generation Pandemic, paints quite a stark picture of disadvantaged children and the pandemic. One aspect of the report relates to children and young people who have fallen out of the school system and probably fallen out of groups they would have had. Usually when that happens - not always but sometimes - they fall in with darker forces in society. Those darker forces will educate them, but in a different way. They will use them, abuse them and normally use them for criminal enterprises. That is obviously compounded by the fact that the things young people gravitate towards were generally suspended over the pandemic.
Social inequality is one of the greatest detriments, if not the greatest detriment, to anybody's mental health. If a person who lives in poor housing is in a situation where inequality is compounded, it can be extremely difficult for their well-being and health. That is one thing we must address.
Since 2010, the cuts to youth services have been enormous although they have been addressed over the last couple of years. That has had a hugely detrimental effect on communities that engage with young people. It is important not to malign or alienate young people. We must be very proactive with them. We must be positive with them because sometimes society is very negative about young people. It makes it seem like young people are the cause of everything. We were all young people at one time and we all did certain stupid things we probably regretted in later years but that is the whole idea of growing up. It is important we give the positive aspects of well-being. There is an issue around young people who fall through the cracks. All the systems they have are gone. It is really important for the Government to address that.