Health and wellbeing of children and young people a priority

Date published: 09 February 2022

Health Minister Robin Swann today published an updated ‘Still Waiting’ Action Plan, alongside its 3rd annual progress report. 

The Action Plan contains 44 actions to improve Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.  It has been updated to reflect developments and priorities such as the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the publication of the 10 year Mental Health Strategy and wider policy initiatives. 

The Minister said:  “The mental health and wellbeing of our children and young people is a priority that needs a societal and cross-departmental response.  We need to ensure our children and young people have the resilience and coping mechanisms to deal with the challenges they face.

“Covid-19 has created many more challenges and we need to look at how children and young people have been impacted by the pandemic and address those emerging issues.” 

The Still Waiting action plan has been improved and updated to include many new actions which take account of the pandemic in addition to areas such as Children with Additional Needs. 

The Minister commented on the Mental Health Strategy which was published last year.  He said: “The Mental Health Strategy includes a number of actions to improve and enhance services that support young people’s mental health and wellbeing. 

“This includes increasing investment in CAMHS to 10% of the overall mental health budget.  While work is underway on a number of the Strategy’s actions, full implementation of the Strategy is subject to securing significant additional investment.  Funding for implementing the Strategy was included as part of the Executive’s Draft Budget 2022-25 consultation.”

Also published today is the 3rd annual progress report of the Still Waiting action plan which provides an update on implementation against the actions over the last 12 months including –

  • launch and ongoing implementation of the Children and Young People’s Emotional Health and Wellbeing in Education Framework
  • notable health related actions underway include the Text-a-Nurse service and expansion of the RISE Programme.
  • significant progress has also been achieved in implementing new CAMHS Emotional Wellbeing Teams in Schools.  It is anticipated that these teams will be operational from the start of the new academic term in September 2022.
  • development and implementation of a new CAMHS data set to support Trusts and HSCB to better identify trends and demands in service provision and to implement timely mitigating measures.
  • development of a new Regional Crisis Service policy, with work ongoing to implement new provision

In conclusion, the Minister said: “Despite the challenges we have faced over the past 12 months, significant and notable progress has been made against a number of key actions contained within the action plan.  My Department will continue to review the action plan to ensure actions are appropriately prioritised to make the maximum impact on the most important areas of our children and young people’s mental health services.”


Notes to editors: 

  1. The report and action plan are available on the Department of Health website.
  2. Still waiting’ action plan takes account of many of the recommendations made by Northern Ireland’s Children’s Commissioner and will undoubtedly be fundamental in continuing to bring about welcomed changes to children’s and adolescent’s mental health services.
  3. In carrying out the review, officials worked collaboratively with a range of stakeholders to seek their views on improvements and future priorities for the action plan.  Focus groups were also held with young people who responded positively to the updated action plan and provided essential feedback and recommendations for the way forward.
  4. The update report also outlines key priorities for 2022, including ongoing implementation of actions within the SWAP and further engagement with young people and NICCY to develop an outcomes framework that will help inform an evaluation of SWAP in 2023. To assist with this work, we also plan to progress work to develop a young persons’ version of the SWAP.
  5. RISE NI is a multi-professional early intervention team that currently exists in all Trust areas and which works directly within all education funded mainstream primary schools and nurseries up until Primary 4 The RISE teams comprise of Clinical Psychologists, Social, Emotional and Behavioural Specialists, Speech and Language Therapists, Occupational Therapists, Physiotherapists and Therapy Assistants. The teams are based in each of the Health and Social Care Trusts in NI and provide a range of support to children directly in mainstream nursery and primary schools to tackle inequalities and barriers to learning
  6. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email:
  7. Follow us on twitter @healthdpt
  8. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service For Media Enquiries Only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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