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Harris response shows disregard for youth mental health in Dublin Fingal – O’Reilly

8 November, 2016 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Responding to a letter from the Minister for Health Simon Harris on Dublin North Primary Care Psychology Services for under 18s, Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has criticised the Minister’s response, saying that it demonstrated a disregard for youth mental health in Dublin Fingal. The Dublin Fingal TD had raised this with the Minister directly after a HSE response in August stated that there was no service in Dublin North.

Deputy O’Reilly said:

“Following on from a Dáil debate on mental health, I wrote to the Minister for Health to once again query why there was no Primary Care Psychology Services for under 18s in Dublin North. This followed on from a response to a PQ to me from the HSE, which advised that a business case to recruit psychologists to address this deficit was submitted to the National Primary Care Division. In my correspondence to the Minister I told him that this should be a priority and it was his responsibility to ensure that the resources are there.

“However, from his response to me, it is clear that there is a disregard for youth mental health in Dublin Fingal. The situation remains unchanged and the Minister could give no commitment that this would be remedied, only that ‘it is hoped to progress this on an incremental basis in line with evolving service priorities and overall resource availability’.

“This response is disgraceful and an absolute insult to the young people, families and communities of North Dublin.

“It is scandalous and deeply worrying that in an area as populated, and which is seeing such massive growth, as Dublin North that there is no primary care psychologist available. The HSE themselves have noted that this creates difficulties in relation to the ability to discharge to a more appropriate service when a young person is no longer in need of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.  

“Indeed, HSE figures have shown that the Swords CAMHS team saw 406 young people between 2014 and August this year with emergency or urgent concerns (depression, self-harm, suicidal ideation, suicidal behaviour, eating disorders among others), and this is completely exclusive of referrals designated as routine.

“Primary care and mental health are supposed to be major pillars of this Government’s priorities but it is very clear that the intent and the actions are diametrically opposed at this current time.

“The Minister of State with responsibility for Mental Health launched a National Taskforce on Youth Mental Health, a supposed community-led taskforce to take action to improve the mental health and wellbeing of children and young people in Ireland. However, the reality that there are young people without access to a primary care psychology service undermines the good will and intent of any taskforce set up. 

“It is very clear that this Government can talk the talk about youth mental health, but when it comes to concrete actions to assist young people, they cannot walk the walk.” 

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