Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Underfunded and understaffed Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services see waiting lists soar - Louise O'Reilly TD

3 January, 2019 - by Louise O'Reilly TD

Speaking this afternoon Sinn Fein Health spokesperson Louise O’Reilly TD has called for increased and targeted investment in 2019 to help ease soaring waiting lists for access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services.

Teachta O’Reilly said:

“It is not unfair to say that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) are in a state of crisis as the service continues to suffer from underfunding and a recruitment and retention crisis.

“Towards the end of 2018 I engaged with the HSE to ascertain the full scale of the crisis and the data and answers I received were shocking.

“At the end of October there were 2,250 children and young people waiting to access CAMHS services, 286 of these were waiting over a year to access their first appointment; 105 of these young people had been waiting in excess of 18 months.

“Every expert in child and adolescent mental health will tell you that early intervention is absolutely vital in avoiding enduring and worsening problems in the future. 

"Yet, the figures revealed to me show that nearly 300 children are waiting over a year to access basic services.

“Mental health issues are emergency health issues; you would not expect anyone with a physical health emergency to wait over a year for treatment yet young people with mental health problems are expected to wait.

“These waiting periods are simply unacceptable and they put people at very serious risk.

“The reason there is such a backlog for access to these services is that CAMHS is not been adequately funded and the area is suffering from the government’s inability to address the recruitment and retention crisis.

“In 2006 the government published an expert mental health report called A Vision For Change which mapped out the future of mental health care and service provision.

“However, figures released to me by the HSE show that CAMHS have barely half the staff necessary under A Vision for Change - the services are operating with just 57% of the necessary staff.

“The figures also show there are over 116 vacant full-time, or whole-time equivalent, CAMHS posts across every CHO area in the State.

“This current situation is unacceptable, we cannot approach every year in the same vain by paying lip service to mental health services and then not properly funding or staffing them. 

"In 2019 there needs to be increased and targeted investment from this government to help ease soaring waiting lists for access to CAHMS services and save lives."

Connect with Sinn Féin