The proposal to establish a cross-governmental youth mental health Pathfinder unit, with participation from the Departments of Health, Education and Children, Equality, Disability, Integration and Youth, received Ministerial approval during the previous Government. Its establishment is a priority in the current Programme for Government.
The proposal is to formalise a new model for collaborative working within Government and place a Pathfinder unit on a statutory footing, through section 12 of the Public Service Management Act 1997. This section has not been used before. Various administrative, budgetary, governance and legal arrangements need to be developed and agreed to ensure a robust and workable model for the Pathfinder unit.
The demands on both Departments during the pandemic have presented challenges to progressing the proposals. Nonetheless, the Department of Health has engaged extensively with the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform, and continues to do so, with the objective of agreeing an implementation option that fully addresses the above issues.
Officials from the Department of Health met with officials from the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform on 8 July to discuss potential options for progress.
The implementation of the Pathfinder project is a priority for me and I will continue to keep this matter under close review in the context of progressing Sharing the Vision.