HSE and Tusla launch new ‘Hidden Harm’ initiative to support children whose parents misuse alcohol and other drugs

HSE and Tusla are working together to address the needs of children affected by parental problem alcohol, and other drug use, in Ireland. On January 25th, both organisations jointly published The Hidden Harm Practice Guide and accompanying Strategic Statement.

These publications set out how the HSE and Tusla intend to bridge the gap between adult and children’s services, in favour of a more family-focused approach that considers the needs of dependent children and other family members.

The adverse experience of children living with, and impacted by, parental substance misuse has been termed ‘Hidden Harm’, as these children are often unknown to services, and they suffer harm due to compromised parenting.

A separate ‘Opening our Eyes to Hidden Harm’ information leaflet has also been published to aid staff and other health and social services practitioners working in this area, to help affected children and families.

The HSE and Tusla are also developing plans for joint training for the services in 2019.

Minister for Children and Youth Affairs, Dr. Katherine Zappone, T.D., was on hand to officially launch the Hidden Harm Strategic Statement and Practice Guide, with support from Minister Catherine Byrne, T.D., Minister of State with responsibility for Health Promotion and the National Drugs Strategy. Joy Barlow MBE, a Scottish-based expert on Hidden Harm and member of the national steering group, which produced the new Tusla/HSE Hidden Harm documents for staff, was a keynote speaker at the event. Speaking on behalf of the HSE was Joe Doyle, Planning Specialist from HSE National Social Inclusion Office and Dr. Aisling Gillen, National Service Director from Tusla.