The Third National Research Conference in Ireland on Youth Mental Health hosted by the Graduate Entry Medical School, University of Limerick (UL) and the Association for Child and Adolescent Mental Health (ACAMH) recently took place in Limerick. Trends in self harm and suicide among young people in Ireland, social disadvantage, ADHD and the role of technology in promoting youth mental health are among the topics which will be discussed at the conference.
Speaking in advance of the conference, organising chair and Professor of General Practice at UL, Walter Cullen, said; “Mental health is a major challenge for our population’s national health, especially here in the Midwest, and this conference will showcase some of the excellent work being carried out by colleagues, associations and health agencies to address this issue.”
In her presentation, Dr Ella Arensman, Director of Research, National Suicide Research Foundation, National Health Services Research Institute outlined worrying tends in self harm among Irish males. “We know that there is a strong correlation between self harm and suicide. Since the recession in Ireland, 2007 our research has found an increase of 27% in self harm among young males (15-29 years).”
Dr Arensman added; “We are facing a new type of self harm evident in the increased incidences in young males. Most of the intervention and prevention programmes currently in place have found evidence which is particularly relevant to women. We need to be faster in our response and understanding of how these same interventions would apply to young men. Additional to this is the very worrying phenomenon of highly lethal methods of self harm displaying high suicide intent among adolescents and young adults aged 15-29 years.”
Mary Cannon, RCSI Associate Professor of Psychiatry and Secretary of ACAMH Special Interest Group on Youth Mental Health said “This conference is a unique opportunity to showcase research and innovation relevant to youth mental health. Dialogue between young people, researchers and policy makers will remain at the forefront of this year’s programme”.
The conference was opened by Deputy Dan Neville, Limerick TD and President, Irish Association of Suicidology, and Don Barry, President, UL. Keynote speakers included Ella Arensman (Director of Research, National Suicide Research Foundation), Bob Illback (Deputy CEO, Headstrong), Eric Taylor (Emeritus Professor of Child Psychiatry, King's College London Institute of Psychiatry), Mary Clarke (Clinical Lead, DETECT), and Ian Daly (HSE Mental Health Clinical Lead).
The “Annual ACAMH Youth Mental Health Research Prize”, was presented during the proceedings in recognition of excellences in research. The prize is in memory of the late Professor Eadbhard O’Callaghan and in recognition of his outstanding contribution to mental health in young people. In an innovative development, young people will be highly involved with the organisation and delivery of the conference as co-chairs of scientific sessions and including a medal for a trainee researcher involved in the area of youth mental health.