February 24, 2023
Access to Jigsaw for mental health supports should be based on need and not location – Mark Ward TD

Sinn Féin Mental Health spokesperson Mark Ward TD has said the waiting times for the Jigsaw youth mental health service across the state are worrying. Teachta Ward has called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution.

He was that there is also an unacceptable element of the services being subject to a postcode lottery. Some areas have  a 4-week waiting time while other areas children are left waiting for 30 weeks.

Teachta Ward said:

“Figures released to me by the HSE through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for counselling appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people.

“Demand for the Jigsaw service right across the State continues to grow, however, as a result youths are waiting up to 30 weeks to get an appointment as of mid-January.

“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, these figures reveal that if a child or young person seeks out care they are in all likelihood going to be faced with extended waiting periods which are simply unacceptable and put them and their mental health at a very serious risk. 

“Young peoples’ mental health has been adversely affected during the pandemic. Loss of schooling, sports, peer supports and even their ability to socialise with friends have impacted on their mental health. 

“There is also an element of postcode lottery in accessing these crucial services, that depending on where you live you may get treated quicker.  Wicklow, for example, has a 4-week waiting time while young people in Cork are left waiting for 30 weeks.

“In my own area of Dublin South West there is a 12 week waiting list for a child to receive this vital mental health treatment

“Uniformed mental health treatment is needed so our young people can access the care they need, when they need it and where they need it.

“Jigsaw provide a very good service to young people who are experiencing mental health difficulties, so it is vital that young people can access treatment at the earliest opportunity.

“I have contacted the Minister and asked that she urgently engage with the service to deliver a solution without delay.”

The Parliamentary Question response on Jigsaw waiting times is available to view here

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