“The Minister needs to look at how resources are being distributed around different parts of the country. No child should be forced to endure such a wait for such a basic service.”

The co-leader of the Social Democrats Róisín Shortall TD today sharply criticised the Minister for Health, as children are left on long waiting lists for mental health services.

Figures obtained by Deputy Shortall from the HSE show that many children are left waiting over a year to access mental health services.

“These figures are absolutely shocking, for all of their talk about investing in mental health the government have allowed these lists to grow to a disgraceful extent,” Deputy Shortall said.

“The documents that I have obtained show that more than 6,000 children are waiting nationally for community psychology services and over 1,500 have been forced to wait a year. In addition, 286 children have been waiting over a year to access Child & Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMS) which provides multidisciplinary support for children and families facing mental health issues.  We are failing these children.”

Deputy Shortall went on to point out the importance of early intervention for child and adolescent mental health.

“Parents who have taken the positive step of seeking assistance for a child who is having difficulty are having the door closed in their face. If a referral is made for talk therapy, it is crucial that it is followed through on in a timely manner so that conditions are not allowed to deteriorate. We should be treating mental health like physical health and not allowing conditions to worsen to a point where emergency interventions are needed. It makes sense to fund these services so that less costly and complex interventions are not needed earlier.”

Deputy Shortall concluded by questioning the huge regional disparities in waiting lists and saying that the Minister and the HSE need to get a handle on the problem.

She added:

“Some areas of the Country have no child waiting over nine months for services, while other areas have over 500 children waiting over a year for services. There is something very wrong with how funding for community psychology services is balanced and managed. The Minister needs to look at how resources are being distributed around different parts of the country. No child should be forced to endure such a wait for such a basic service.”

ENDS

22nd January 2019

Notes to Editors:

PQ 53886/18 Question: To ask the Minister for Health the number of persons on a waiting list for CAMHS by CHO, age, category and time waiting. -Róisín Shortall TD

PQ Ref. No. 53885/18: To ask the Minister for Health the number of persons on a waiting list for community psychology services by CHO, age, category and time waiting – Róisín Shortall TD