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The Union of Students in Ireland has welcomed the establishment of a new body, The National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health, which aims to increase awareness of, and reduce the stigma surrounding, mental illness. According to the Mental Health Reform’s ‘A Vision for Change’, there was an 8% increase last year in the waiting list cases in the Children and Adolescents Mental Health Services (CAMHS) from the year before.

USI Vice-President for Welfare, Cian Power, will be representing USI and third level students on the taskforce, following the continued work and dedication from USI on mental health on campaigns like #ChatsForChange and #IamAReason.

“USI are honoured to be part of the body to increase awareness of mental illness and reduce the stigma surrounding it.” Jack Leahy, USI Deputy President, said. “It is extremely positive that mental health is a priority for the government and we are looking forward to working with Minister McEntee and the taskforce.”

The taskforce was passed through the cabinet on the 27th July. It will create awareness of the supports that are available and make them more accessible within communities for young people.

“There is consensus in Ireland that the education system holds the key to greater awareness, cultural changes, prevention and early intervention.” Leahy said. “Education has a huge influence on a child’s intellectual development, empathy and cultural acceptance. If we can get children and young people into the habit of talking about mental health, we can play a huge part in reducing the stigma surrounding it.”

The National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health 2016/2017 is made up of Helen McEntee TD, Minister of State for Mental Health and Older People (Chair); Paul Reid, Fingal County Manager (Chair alternate); Cian Power, VP for Welfare, Union of Students of Ireland ; Dr Tony Bates, CEO Jigsaw; Prof Mary Cannon, RCSI; Rob Hennelly, GAA; Dr Shari McDaid, Mental Health Reform; Moninne Griffith, BeLonG To; Mary Cunningham, National Youth Council of Ireland; Grainia Long, ISPCC; Ian Power, CEO ; Jim Breen, CEO Cycle Against Suicide; and representatives of the Health, Education and Children’s Services Sectors including from central government Departments and the frontline.

The National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health Reference Group includes Niall Breslin, Lust for Life (Co-Chair) and Emma Farrell, former youth advisor to Jigsaw (Co-Chair).



  • Further information on the National Task Force on Youth Mental Health (including the Terms of Reference)
  • Members of the Taskforce will be asked to contribute their time on a pro-bono, voluntary basis and will not receive salary or payment in relation to their role on the Taskforce.
  • The first Reference Group meeting will be scheduled early in the process and is expected to take place in September 2016.
  • The first National Consultative Forum meeting will be scheduled early in the process and is expected to take place in November 2016.



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