Jennifer Whitmore TD

Survey highlights long waiting lists and raises questions about standard of mental health services for children and adolescents

Today’s report from the Ombudsman for Children paints a worrying picture of mental health services for children and teenagers in Ireland, according to Social Democrats TD Jennifer Whitmore.

Deputy Whitmore, who is the party’s spokesperson on Children, said:

“More than 2,100 children aged between 12 and 17 participated in the mental health survey. Access to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) was identified as a major issue – something I am hearing all the time from parents in my constituency.

“The survey found that six in ten children had difficulty accessing CAMHS, which is completely unacceptable.

“However, it is equally concerning that almost half of those who attended services did not feel it had helped with their mental health issues. More than a quarter of the children felt CAMHS staff had been dismissive of them, while only 11 per cent believed they had been listened to.

“We have known for some time that long waiting lists for mental health services is putting families all around the country under severe stress. There are now almost 12,000 children waiting for primary care psychology services, of which 4,270 have been waiting for over a year.

“The results of today’s survey also raises serious questions about the standard and quality of care that young people and children receive when they finally access mental health services.

“The Children’s Ombudsman’s report provides a damning assessment of how CAMHS is operating. The Minister for Health and HSE must urgently respond to the survey’s findings and immediately outline how they will address the needs of children and adolescents who struggle with their mental health.”

May 5, 2023

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