posted on April 29th, 2024

Vital Investment for Youth Mental Health Through PEACEPLUS

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

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

In 2020, the Youth Well-being 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 passed down through intergenerational trauma which impacts on young people’s mental health and well-being, 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 well-being 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 mental health of out 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.”

Minister Roderic O’Gormon, 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 well-being 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 to 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 intergenerational trauma through focused interventions which will provide young people with the tools, knowledge and support to care for their mental health.”

Today’s announcement follows previous PEACEPLUS funding awards for youth services including €45 million for cross-community youth projects and €13 million 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.

Pupils from Pobalscoil Ghaoth Dobhair, in Donegal who participated in the PEACE IV funded project Our Generation.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

To stay up to date on news and events.

Link to Ulster Tatler Awards 2024 About page