Mental health, domestic violence and addiction issues in families

Posted on Wednesday 07 October 2020 in Press Releases

Media Release

*Spokespeople available

Barnardos report high number of mental health, domestic violence and addiction issues in families as charity braces for a COVID focused era of need

07 October 2020: Barnardos has today said that there is a worrying picture emerging post lockdown of families being referred to services suffering a combination of the ‘toxic three’ - mental health issues, domestic violence, and addiction issues. While these issues consistently present in referrals for Barnardos’ services, a snapshot of almost 1,250 open cases over one week in September shows that nearly two thirds of families (61%) 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, 44% are experiencing difficulties related to mental health, one in four (25%) experience domestic violence in the home, and 21% are experiencing issues related to addiction. Overall 30% are experiencing a combination of two or more of these issues.

Suzanne Connolly, CEO Barnardos says: “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. We need their support as we battle on the ground to overcome the challenges that this time has brought on thousands of families and vulnerable children across the country.

The organisation is 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 has brought.

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.

Barnardos provided vital services to thousands of families during lockdown earlier this year and continues to provide such support in these very uncertain times.


For more information please contact:

Barnardos Press Office: 

01 7080442 / 086 0445966   

Notes to editor:


  • This information represents a snapshot of open and active cases over a one week period in September across 32 family support and early year services.


  • Barnardos Pre-Budget Submission can be viewed here


About Barnardos   

Barnardos’ mission is to deliver services and work with families, communities, and our partners to transform the lives of vulnerable children who are affected by adverse childhood experiences.

Because childhood lasts a lifetime