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Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services ‘in crisis’ – Buckley

27 April, 2018 - by Pat Buckley TD

Sinn Féin Mental Health spokesperson Pat Buckley TD has described the state of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the country as at crisis point. He said the problems were causing a national emergency which is having tragic consequences for many young people and their families.

Teachta made his comments following an eye opening documentary of RTE last night, ’Big Picture - Young and Troubled’, which focused on young people in need of mental health services.

The Cork East TD said:

“We have been raising this with the Minister for some time now and the department. CAMHS is simply not meeting the needs of young people who are often in very desperate circumstances and need immediate care.

“Last night’s documentary revealed there are 2,603 children and adolescents waiting for an appointment with a child and adolescent Mental Health Team, who treat vulnerable children in Ireland with moderate to severe mental health problems. 1,322 have been waiting more than 3 months.

“This is due in large part to a failure to recruit staff needed to fully operate a CAMHS team. At present and for quite some time now, around half of positions in CAMHS teams across the country are vacant. 

“This means that, in many cases, no consultant psychiatrist to assess new presentations or no clinical psychologist to support that assessment. There are also gaps across the teams in different, but essential, disciplines.

“Last night’s programme is only further proof of the horror stories of young people in desperate need being turned away from CAMHS or sent from pillar to post. This is unacceptable and is quite definitely costing young lives.

“Yesterday, I took part in the launch of the interim report of the Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care. The report included a raft of new proposals to improve recruitment such a pay review, subsidised housing, and allowing doctors from other jurisdictions to take up posts. No measure is too big or costly when young people are dying for lack of care.

“We also need to see greater move towards 24/7 services and the development of an 18-24 year old transitional CAMHS service so that no one in need of care or currently receiving care slips through the cracks due to their age.

“Last night was a wake up call to the government. Simply talking the talk is not good enough; they need to put these sensible proposals into action and do whatever it takes to end the crisis in CAMHS.

“Young people, their families, and the staff charged with caring for them deserve better.” 

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