Strategic actions required for children and adult children: ‘Silent Voices’, who live with parental alcohol misuse
Alcohol Action Ireland, together with a pioneering group of founders, established ‘Silent Voices’ – an advocacy initiative to highlight the hidden harms of parental alcohol misuse.
‘Leading Change: a society free from alcohol harm – Strategic Plan 2020-24’ establishes a vision for our future work across five strategic goals and supporting actions. Our goals: A childhood free from alcohol harm; services for all affected by alcohol harm and the establishment of a state-sponsored Office to lead on alcohol policy, embrace the specific actions required to advance the primary objectives of ‘Silent Voices’.
Work towards a whole-of-government approach
- Have an identifiable lead at central government level who has responsibility to advise and develop appropriate policies and services for children living with parental alcohol misuse.
- Establish partnerships to recognise the holistic and specific needs of children and adults who have experienced parental alcohol misuse and to break down barriers between departments and agencies to embed the concept of trauma-informed services, creating a shared common language and understanding of the issue.
Provide supports and services
- Map services available for children experiencing parental alcohol misuse.
- Invest in primary care psychology services to meet the needs of both children and adults – this is urgent and vital given the numbers waiting for services.
- Invest in adult alcohol treatment services, as inadequate resources and service redevelopments have resulted in a critical shortage of alcohol addiction services.
- Alcohol assessment/screening of all patients must become the norm across all tiers of the health services – primary, secondary and tertiary.
Training & awareness raising
- Public health information campaign(s) should be developed to inform the whole-of-population about this issue.
- Services working with children and families – including educational and criminal justice services – should be incentivised to become trauma-informed. Training in relation to adverse childhood experiences must be provided at teacher training level, and at all levels in schools – from teachers to principals to education welfare officers.
- Robust, comprehensive and consistent data should be gathered in appropriate settings, for example in mental health, child and family, education, homeless and criminal justice settings. This will identity the numbers of children and adults affected by this issue and will inform policy and service provision.
- Public discourse/debate on the right to a childhood free from alcohol harm should take place, and children should have their voices heard in relation to this.
The full ‘Silent Voices’ manifesto is available here