ISPCC calls for Government commitment to meaningful investment in mental health provision for children and young people

ISPCC calls for Government commitment to meaningful investment in mental health provision for children and young people

Children’s mental health was in the spotlight again today as the Children’s Rights Alliance (CRA) launched its Report Card 2023 and for the second consecutive year awarded the Government an ‘E’ grade in relation to youth mental health.

Children have a right to appropriate care, and at ISPCC we know the importance of prevention and early intervention. The Government must commit to a policy of both targeted and universal investment in mental health service provision for children and young people. 

We reiterate our call for the Government to commit with haste to the implementation of the Pathfinder interdepartmental unit on youth mental health in order to align and streamline the mental health supports across various government departments. 

ISPCC CEO John Church says “This has been a key policy ask of the ISPCC since it was first recommended in the National Youth Mental Health Task Force Report in 2017, of which ISPCC was a member. There can be no further delay if we are to truly recognise the health rights of children and young people and to employ best efforts to have a world-class mental health service.”

It is a mammoth task to issue an annual report card and we commend the CRA for all its efforts in doing so. 

The Government’s ‘E’ rating in this year’s CRA’s report card – a grade awarded due to the long waiting lists facing young people requiring support from Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) – shows the need for this administration to demonstrate that it considers the mental health of children and young people to be a key priority. 

ISPCC shared the sense of shock felt by many on the publication of the interim report by the Mental Health Commission into the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in January. 

CAMHS is illustrative of the crisis facing the health service. Yet, sadly, this is not a surprise for those of us working to support children and young people. 

The ability of CAMHS to provide a meaningful service is also hampered by staffing issues and the slow pace of digital transformation. A digital system that allows for timely monitoring and continuity of care is essential. As it stands, the system is utterly broken, despite the best efforts of those working within it. 

At ISPCC, mental health concerns are one of the primary reasons why children and young people contact us. Calls on mental and emotional health are a top profile in our 24/7 Childline Listening Service. 

In terms of online safety we are delighted to see the Government’s efforts recognised by the awarding of a ‘A’ grade. The Online Safety and Media Regulation Act is a crucial piece of legislation designed to improve the safety and experience of children and young people in the ever-evolving digital environment. However, we strongly believe that there is more work to be done in this area.

We need an updated action plan on online safety, the Online Safety Commissioner must be sufficiently resourced and proposed binding codes must be fit for purpose. 

It is imperative that children and young people can always be safe online, however we know from those who contact Childline that this is not always the case.

Our partner in the Irish Safer Internet Centre, has helped many of those young people who have been the victims of ‘intimate image abuse’ (IIA) as operators of the reporting mechanism for such images. Under the Harassment, Harmful Communications and Related Offences Act, it is an offence to share an intimate image or video of a person without their consent. 

This is a complicated issue, and ISPCC is grateful to have been involved in consultations regarding the revision of the Relationships and Sexuality Education (RSE) programme for Junior Cycle in post-primary schools. programme. We believe this is a key opportunity for the curriculum to be modernised and respond to the needs of children and young people.

It is crucial that we teach our children how to manage their relationships in a digital world. 

“A truly innovative and dynamic new RSE programme will empower all children and young people, by making them familiar with the concept of sexuality and the distinction between healthy and unhealthy, or inappropriate relationships,” says ISPCC CEO John Church. “This could assist in the prevention of, or early intervention in, potential child sexual abuse cases happening in future.”


ISPCC launches Lets Sweat It Together National Campaign

Irish rugby heroes Brittany Hogan and Caelan Doris (pictured above) join forces with Childline by ISPCC as they reveal their childhood concerns and urge the nation to get chatting

For rugby star Brittany Hogan, lining up for ISPCC’s latest fundraising campaign, Let’s Sweat it Together, is the perfect tribute to her childhood self. “Unfortunately, I was once that child in need, desperate for someone to talk to but was not sure how to approach my feelings or thoughts. Worries are so personal to each one of us and it is important to not bottle them up inside.

“I am proud to be supporting Childline on this fantastic campaign spreading awareness of the importance of chatting and what better way than getting outside and sweating those worries out together.”

While her fellow rugby player Caelan Doris had a different experience growing up, he understands the importance of sharing worries with loved ones. “Having psychotherapists as parents, I was always encouraged to be open about my feelings and discuss any worries or concerns that I had but it’s only in the last few years that I’ve started doing it.

“It can be uncomfortable to talk about tricky things but the more I do it, the more I see the benefit in it. I’ve also realised that everyone has their own struggles and that our worries and anxieties are often quite similar which has been reassuring in not feeling alone or different.”

About Let’s Sweat It Together

From March 27 to April 2, Childline by ISPCC is calling on schools, businesses and individuals to take part in our latest campaign by walking a lap while having a chat with a friend, family member or colleague.

Let’s Sweat it Together was developed in response to the worries of callers to Childline. Childline is Ireland’s only 24/7 free listening service for children and young people. We know from talking to children and young people that their worries range from sibling rivalry and differences in music tastes to exam anxiety, confusion about sexuality and concerns about a friend self-harming.

  • “I’m confused about my sexuality”
  • “My friend is self-harming and I’m worried”
  • “My sister gets more praise than me”
  • “I’m worried about failing the Leaving Cert”
  • “I have some questions about puberty”
  • “How are babies made?”

We provide a supportive listening ear for all those worries and anything else on the minds of our callers.

John Church, ISPCC CEO commented on the launch: “As children around the country are entering a period of high pressure with exam season, we want to remind them that if a worry is big to you, it’s big to us at Childline. That’s why we are encouraging individuals, schools and businesses to join us from March 27 to April 2 and ‘Let’s Sweat it Together’ by having a lap and a chat with a friend, family member or colleague.”

ISPCC needs to raise up to 75% of its funding each year from donations and relies on the generosity of people right across Ireland.  The charity is grateful for all support which helps ensure its services and supports are available to children and young people 24 hours a day, every day.

To donate to Childline’s ‘Let’s Sweat it Together’ campaign or to find out more information on how to sign your school or business up, visit:

Safer Internet Day 2023 is a resounding success in the ongoing work to keep children safe online

February 7th marked the 20th anniversary of the global event which was also biggest one to date in this country

Safer Internet Day, which took place on Tuesday, February 7, 2023, was a resounding success and ISPCC was delighted to be involved in such an important event for children and young people.

Almost 200,000 children and young people throughout Ireland took part in initiatives around the country to mark the momentous occasion.

The Safer Internet Day launch took place in Dublin’s Chocolate Factory and focused on promoting respect and building empathy online. The student-led event included discussions and explorations of the opportunities and challenges as they relate to protecting, empowering and respecting children and young people navigating a digital world.

It was a privilege to listen to the remarkable young people participating in the event share their thoughts, hopes and dreams for the future.

Safer Internet Day 2023 also saw the official launch of the #SilentWitness awareness campaign.

This campaign was developed by Webwise (the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre) to explore the topic of online bullying and abuse. Developed in consultation with young people, incorporating the latest research, this campaign aims to spark conversations inside and outside the classroom, in homes, online and in the wider community.

The campaign comprises of three short powerful films which explore the nuances of online friendships, peer pressure, the notion of banter and the impact bullying can have on young people.


The Irish Safer Internet Centre partner organisations work towards a shared mission of making the internet a safer and more inclusive place for children and young people.

We at ISPCC are proud to partner with, the National Parents Council Primary and in this crucial endeavour.

Almost 200,000 young people take part in Ireland’s biggest ever Safer Internet Day


‘Promoting Respect and Building Empathy Online’ more important than ever says Irish Safer Internet Centre

The launch of Safer Internet Day takes place today Tuesday, February 7, 2023, at The Chocolate Factory, 26 King’s Inns St, Rotunda, Dublin 1.

Today is the biggest ever Safer Internet Day in Ireland with almost 200,000 young people and children taking part in initiatives around the country  to mark the occasion. 

The launch is a student-led event focused on promoting respect and building empathy online. It includes discussions and explorations of the opportunities and challenges as they relate to protecting, empowering, and respecting children and young people, while they navigate a digital world. 

This year, the Irish Safer Internet Centre is calling on all of society to play their part in “Promoting Respect and Building Empathy Online”.

A recent survey of teenagers in Ireland, carried out by DCU’s Anti-bullying Centre on behalf of the Department of Education’s Webwise (the Irish Internet Safety Awareness Centre), with a focus on bystander behaviour online reveals that: 

• 45.3% of teenagers surveyed report witnessing some kind of mistreatment online over the last months, with most of the mistreatment happening at the hands of strangers.

• Among those who reported witnessing online mistreatment, 31.3% said a stranger started the mistreatment and 25% said other strangers joined in.

• Of those surveyed, 22.9% of participants who witnessed online mistreatment had used at least one kind of privacy or reporting tool to help others. 

Minister for Education Norma Foley T.D. said: 

“Safer Internet Day is fast becoming a key part in the school calendar and this 20th anniversary is another key milestone. We will continue to support learners and school communities to ensure their online experience is a safe one.

“Just two months ago I published Cineáltas: Action Plan on Bullying which places a significant emphasis on cyber-bullying and seeks to ensure that our schools are safe and happy places for all our children and young people.”

“I would encourage teachers and parents to examine the wide range of resources available to students through Webwise which promotes safer and better internet use.”

Irish Safer Internet Centre Representatives said:

“We are delighted to be back celebrating Safer Internet Day as an in-person event this year and to have the opportunity to discuss some of the key findings of our survey.

“Hosted by young people, today’s event affords us all the forum to ddiscuss all things about and regarding online safety. The theme of the event is ‘promoting respect and building empathy online’ which we know is more important now than ever.

“Our aim from today is to develop better strategies and partnerships on education, awareness prevention, reporting, resolution, which will ultimately effect behavioural change. 

Ombudsman for Children Dr Niall Muldoon, a sustained advocate for children’s rights, championing their safety in the digital environment, and guest speaker at the event, said:

“I am delighted to support the encouragement of more conversations on the topic of respect, empathy and online bullying for this population of children. The #SilentWitness campaign launched today on Safer Internet Day 2023, which was developed by Webwise in close consultation with young people and drawing from the latest survey findings, is an excellent way to kick-start those conversations. 

“The campaign is a series of three short films aiming to get children and adults talking inside and outside the classroom, within families, amongst peers, and in the wider community around the topic of online bullying and actions that can be taken.”

Prachi Agrawal (17), Webwise Youth Panellist said: 

“When you teach people about digital wellbeing you should also teach them about tolerance and acceptance from a young age. When you instil values of respect, respecting other people’s opinions, cultures, sexuality, and religion…you’re instilling a skill that people hold throughout their life.”

Safer Internet Day in Ireland is coordinated by the Irish Safer Internet Centre, a partnership between Webwise, ISPCC, National Parents Council Primary and, providing a range of complementary online safety services, including an education and awareness centre, child and parent helplines and a hotline.

The Centre is coordinated by the Department of Justice and co-funded by the European Union.