Someone to care: the mental health needs of children and young people in the care and youth justice system

Rosaleen McElvaney

Published 2013


Significant proportions of children and young people who engage with the alternative care and youth justice systems experience mental health difficulties. Developing timely, effective and comprehensive responses for these young people’s needs is challenging, but Ireland has human rights obligations under international instruments to do so. The main aim of this study is to explore the experiences and mental health needs of children and young people from the perspectives of those who have experienced these systems, and to explore professionals’ views of the barriers to meeting those needs. In addition we sought to review the international and legal, human rights and policy contexts for the provision of mental health services to young people in the care and youth justice systems; to analyse the economic context; to document learning from international literature on best practice in service provision in these fields; and to make recommendations for future developments.”

The recommendations flowing from this 2013 report in Ireland were:

  1. Listen to the voice of the child: Involve young people in planning service developments, education and consultation
  2. Issue a national policy statement and national strategy to address the mental health needs of children and young people in the care of the State
  3. Establish a common assessment framework and ongoing monitoring of children’s and young people’s mental health needs
  4. Provide stability for children and young people in the care and in youth justice systems
  5. Provide adequate, equitable access to services
  6. Establish mandatory protocols for inter-agency work
  7. Develop training programmes in identifying and understanding psychological well-being issues as an integral part of professional development for all professionals
  8. Provide legislative protection for children leaving care and detention, and homeless children

The study report can be read online and/or be downloaded at…

Source Academia ResearchGate:


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