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Timely support and treatment for child and youth mental health challenges is critical - Kathleen Funchion TD

20 February, 2018 - by Kathleen Funchion TD

Sinn Féin TD, Kathleen Funchion, today calls on the Government to take action urgently and immediately to address the staffing issues in the youth mental health sector.

Teachta Funchion said:

“Ireland has the one of the highest youth suicide rates in Europe. Our Government needs to take action now to address the staffing issues and to make services available to children and young people as soon as they require them.

“I was shocked to learn that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in CHO5 (South Tipperary, Carlow/Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford) currently have just 46.1% per cent of the number of nurses and doctors recommended by the Government’s “Vision for Change” strategy, 2006.

“The strategy was drawn up by an expert group tasked with modernising our mental health services. In comparison with this strategy, which is now 12 years old, the current Government have achieved a national average of 56.1% of the recommended staff. This really is a disgrace.

“The Children’s Rights Alliance revealed that nearly 7,000 children under the age of 17 were waiting for a community-based psychology appointment at the end of last July — with one third of those waiting for more than a year. Our children and young people deserve immediate access to the help they need to deal with mental health challenges.

“The Government is struggling to fill hundreds of positions nationwide and psychiatric nurses across the country are taking industrial action because of the overcrowding and under-staffing they face on a daily basis. 

"Staff do their best for their patients but the conditions they face in work every day are demoralising for them and for the patients and the situation is unacceptable.

“The pressures on the system are only increasing and it is very worrying that waiting lists for initial appointments are climbing higher and higher with huge regional variations. 

"Our children and young people cannot be waiting for up to 2 years for an initial appointment for mental health services and then waiting another year or so for follow on appointments.

“The complexities and difficulties faced with young people who suffer with their mental health are extremely well highlighted, yet our youth mental health services are running at barely over half the number of staff which was recommended 12 years ago and it is impossible to get the help they need.

“Timely support and treatment for mental health challenges is so critical to prevent further deterioration, with possibly tragic results.

“These delays are having unnecessary repercussions to young people’s well-being, development and lives and the Government needs to take immediate action to meet increased demands on these services which were not fit for purpose 12 years ago and definitely are not fit for purpose now.”

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