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Government must take on board the real and possible solutions to child mental health crisis coming from the Seanad today – Devine

29 June, 2017 - by Máire Devine

The first day of public consultation on children’s mental health took place in the Seanad today. A subsequent day will be held next Thursday, after which a report from the Seanad Public Consultation Committee will be issued. Speaking afterwards, Sinn Féin spokesperson for Health Máire Devine said:

“This morning’s session was eye-opening, and we got another fascinating perspective in the afternoon session.  Some of the statistics were truly shocking. For example, over the last number of years, there has been a 300% increase in child referrals and yet huge decreases in staffing levels; only 53% of posts are currently filled. The number of inpatient beds for children in Ireland now stand at only 48 for the entire state.  This is a national disgrace.  Looking at my local hospital of Linn Dara, half of the CAMHS beds were closed due to the inability of government to resolve staffing issues, and I will not stop talking about those beds until the situation is rectified.

“I am determined to take what we learn from these sessions to inform action both in this house and on the ground in the communities affected by mental health.  There are many practical and realistic suggestions coming from the experts today, that the government now must take heed of. For example, CAMHS funding needs to be ring-fenced, the Mental Health Act needs reform and we must tackle the terms and conditions that currently exist for mental health staff that are pushing nurses overseas and into private practise.  24/7 mental health services must be an absolute priority. Mental illness is not 9-5, and Sinn Féin has consistently put forward proposals to bring in such a service.

“The government’s publication of their plan for out of hours services was welcomed at the time, but little progress has been made on it and now it’s time for action. The need is only growing and this is beyond crisis.

“Ultimately, we need an expansion of primary care services, we need them embedded within our community and we need to keep our children close and safe.”

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