Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has called the waiting list for a child to see a primary care psychologist a national scandal of epic proportions.
There are at least 8,011 children and teenagers waiting for treatment from a psychologist with 3,359 of these children’s waiting for over a year
Teachta Ward said:
“Figures I received recently from a response to a parliamentary question submitted by my colleague Pat Buckley TD have left me shocked.
“Over 8,100 children and teenagers were waiting for a psychology appointment at the end of June 2020. The figures are an increase on last years as systematic under-investment and mismanagement of mental health services are coming home to roost.
“What worries me most is to see 3,359 of these children are waiting over a year. This is unacceptable. Early intervention is key to a child’s development and any delay in treatment can have untold detrimental impact on their future wellbeing.
“Sometimes we can get lost in statistics but behind each of the figures that make up 3,359 waiting on an appointment is a child. Each is a child with an individual story; a child with individual needs; a vulnerable child who needs treatment.
“Children need this service for a vast range of reasons including anxiety, depression, difficulties managing their feelings, difficulties with concentration and attention, social and interpersonal difficulties among others.
“Psychology is considered a very basic service in other countries. This Government needs to fundamentally change how mental health services are provided for.
“In CHO area 7, which includes my own area, there are over 1,500 kids waiting to see a psychologist with almost 700 waiting over a year. This is particularly concerning in the Galway, Mayo and Roscommon area which has over 1,000 children waiting over a year
“The list is also bigger than the figures represent as no data was returned in June for, Sligo, Leitrim, Mayo and Dublin.
“I do take on board the context that Covid-19 has posed significant challenges, but these problems were around long before Covid-19.
“The system was not coping with the number of vulnerable children prior to Covid-19. This Government needs to put in place measures to deal with the existing waiting lists and with the expected influx of children needing support because of the pandemic.”