Crisis in children’s mental health services must be addressed

Crisis in children’s mental health services must be addressed

Calls have been made for the crisis in children’s mental health services across Cork and Ireland to be addressed.

Recent figures revealed that more than 2,600 children and young people are waiting for an appointment with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) with Cork among the worst affected areas.

More than 300 of these children have been waiting for more than a year.

It was also recently revealed that 84 children and teenagers were admitted to adult units last year, up from 68 in 2016.

Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne said Fine Gael is causing what could be irreparable damage to mental health services because it has allowed them to slip down the priority list.

Fianna Fáil decided to bring forward a private member’s motion on the issue following the recent publication of the Mental Health Commission’s annual report and the report from the Inspector of Mental Health Services.

Deputy Browne said both reports contained “very stark and worrying findings.” The reports identified problems with governance and management deficits within mental health services, as well as issues with seclusion and physical restraint in services for young people.

Deputy Browne explained that staffing levels are a “serious concern”, with services in some parts of the country having fewer than half the recommended number of staff set out under A Vision for Change.

In Cork, one region has been without a permanent children’s mental health consultant for around 18 months.

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health (CAMHS) consultant left the North Lee North team and is yet to be permanently replaced, meaning the team has been without a permanent consultant since February 2018.

The lack of a consultant saw waiting lists for CAMHS services in the region close last summer.

The HSE told The Echo that “strenuous efforts” to fill this vacancy in Cork, including repeated advertising and the use of recruitment agencies both nationally and internationally, have been unsuccessful.

Recent figures show that almost 150 children were awaiting to be seen by CAMHS in the area, a decrease since the start of 2019 when almost 250 were on the waiting lists. However, in August last year, it was revealed the CAMHS team in the area were not taking on new referrals when there was more than 150 children awaiting the service.

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