Crying out for help: Cork parents desperate as 11-year-old self harms while on mental health waiting list 

Crying out for help: Cork parents desperate as 11-year-old self harms while on mental health waiting list 

THE head of a Cork charity shared her heartbreak at receiving photographs of a child’s self-harming scars from parents who revealed he had been waiting 18 months for counselling.

THE head of a Cork charity shared her heartbreak at receiving photographs of a child’s self-harming scars from parents who revealed he had been waiting 18 months for counselling.

Cork Penny Dinners founder Caitríona Twomey was alarmed to view the images on her phone.

However, she said it is not the first call she has heard from parents in distress.

The parents had taken the photos as a last resort to get help for their son, who is just 11 years old.

“These parents needed somebody who could give them advice,” Caitríona said.

“They knew I would be aware of who could help.”

Figures revealed this week showed nearly 100 children nationwide have been waiting for at least 18 months for an appointment with the mental health service.

At the end of December, there were 2,327 kids waiting for an appointment with the HSE's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (Camhs). The Cork and Kerry region is the worst affected area, with 619 people waiting for an appointment.

Caitríona Twomey says the Government need to do more. Pic; Larry Cummins
Caitríona Twomey says the Government need to do more. Pic; Larry Cummins

Ms Twomey said the incident made her feel angry at the Government’s inaction in relation to mental health issues.

“It makes me feel angry with the Government because they know these issues are occurring,” she said.

“These are children who are protected by the Constitution, yet when they present for services there isn’t enough resources.

“This is not the only child and family in distress,” Ms Twomey said. “I can’t pick up the phone to tell the Government what is going on. There is a procedure the family have to go through. However, this is an emergency and there needs to be a number parents can call.

“The fact that there are children self-harming at such a young age is very difficult for families. It’s hard because we have no immediate answers.”

Ms Twomey is calling for a designated emergency medicine department to deal with children experiencing mental health issues.

“The Government know that services need to be put in place,” she said. “If anything is going to be done there needs to be designated emergency medicine departments for children suffering with these issues.”

She stressed that the parents of children with mental health issues have nowhere to turn and she urged the Government to take action.

“This is an 11-year-old boy,” she said. “His parents need help now. This is all new to them. They are not experts. When you’re not an expert you don’t know where to turn.

“If people in the voluntary sector can build up a good organisation with only lay-people then why can’t the Government, with all their advisors, do the same. Politicians need to remember that these are real children. These are parents and children who need to be saved.”

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