Young people being failed by government inaction on mental health - Pat Buckley TD
Sinn Féin Mental Health spokesperson Pat Buckley TD has described the continuing high numbers of young people who are waiting extended periods for essential mental health care through CAMHS as “a disgrace”.
Speaking during a debate on Child and Adolescent Mental Health in the Dáil Deputy Buckley said that thousands of children are waiting for mental health care and many in excess of a year.
Deputy Buckley continued;
“Last August Cork CAMHS closed to new referrals. This came at a time of unprecedented national and local demand on the mental health services at nearly all levels but particularly among young people. It was primarily due to staff shortages.
"CAMHS services simply did not have the staff to operate at the capacity required and a failure to recruit new consultant psychiatrist for initial assessments was leaving children in mental distress playing the waiting game.
"We knew this in September and we knew it long before then. I personally have been raising staffing levels in CAMHS for over for many years and it was one of the first issues I spoke about upon my election to the Dáil in 2016.
"This is how long this problem has been building and how long the government have been neglecting it. Staffing levels in CAMHS are overall still around 56.2% of recommended levels with my own area and others with considerably less than that. There is roughly 74 positions currently vacant in Cork/Kerry CHO.
"In the context of Nurses striking, with Psychiatric Nurses of the PNA refusing to do Overtime from today. There has never been a more crucial time for the government to begin to invest seriously in mental health. We are tired of press release from Ministers claiming action and funding which never materialises.
"We need to address the recruitment and retention crisis in Nursing and Psyhciatry by listening to the professionals and what they need. We need to improve structure for referral and cooperation between services for children, adolescents and young adults.
"We need to provide specialist care for children and young adults who are a risk to others and end the scandalous use of entire units with a dozen beds for one person.
"We must invest every year in the services with real well laid out additional funding dedicated to closely the gaps in services and not papering over them."