Barnardos reports high levels of mental health, domestic violence and addiction issues in families

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Barnardos say they are reporting high number of mental health, domestic violence and addiction issues in families.

The children's charity said there is a worrying picture emerging post lockdown of families being referred to services suffering a combination of these ‘toxic three’ issues.

While these issues consistently present in Barnardos’ services, a snapshot of almost 1,250 open cases over a week in September shows nearly two thirds of families (61 per cent) who are being supported by Barnardos, across 32 intensive family support and early years services, are experiencing at least one of these issues.

Of these families, they said 44 per cent are experiencing difficulties related to mental health, one in four (25 per cent) experience domestic violence in the home, and 21 per cent are experiencing issues related to addiction.

Barnardos said overall 30 per cent are experiencing a combination of two or more of these issues.

Speaking about the latest data, Suzanne Connolly, Barnardos chief executive says:

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As we move forward through this ongoing pandemic and continue to be there for those who need us, much of our work has been impacted by COVID and our future support is being shaped by the impact of this crisis.

"Families are experiencing higher levels of mental health issues, domestic violence in the home and issues related to addiction.

“With the Budget 2021 announcement drawing near, we implore the government to recognise the work organisations such as Barnardos is doing in response to Covid."

She said they need government support as they battle on the ground to overcome the challenges that this period has brought on thousands of families and vulnerable children across the country.

The organisation is also asking for sufficient funding to be provided to Tusla, and urging it is crucial that resources filter down to organisations working on the frontline, so that vulnerable families and children can be supported to cope with the additional pressures that Covid brings.

According to Ms. Connolly “We have, throughout our 57 years of existence, supported vulnerable children affected by abuse or neglect and, as difficult as these times are for everyone, we cannot allow this pandemic to push even more children into suffering.

“Children who have experience of mental ill-health, domestic violence, addiction, abuse or neglect within their family require early intervention and family support services. The Programme for Government commits to investing in these services.

"This investment needs to start now, before further negative impacts of the pandemic place thousands more children at risk."

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