Sinn Féin TD for Clare, Violet-Anne Wynne, has criticised the waiting time for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) across the state, which, as of the end of November, stood at 2,948.
In response to a parliamentary question submitted by Deputy Wynne, figures from the HSE have revealed that the numbers of young people waiting for access to critical community-based mental health services have not dropped below 2,500 over the past five-year period.
Teachta Wynne said:
“Waiting lists to access community healthcare across the state have gone from bad to worse. Quite often, the government uses Covid-19 as a smokescreen for the inefficiency of many services offered by the HSE.
“In the latest figures we received in response to a parliamentary question, it has been revealed that the number of children waiting for preliminary CAMHS appointments has not dropped below 2,500 over the past five-year period.
“At the end of 2017, there were 2,513 children and teens waiting; by Q3 of 2021, this figure had actually risen to 2,948.
“There are also geographic discrepancies between CHO areas. For example, here in Clare, which is in CHO3, the number of children waiting has increased by nearly 30% over this five-year period despite supposed funding increases.
“The objectives set out in ‘A Vision for Change’, our national mental health strategy published last year, will not be implemented unless the government puts their money where their mouth is and invest significantly in CAMHS services.
“There are only six inpatient CAMHS units across the whole state, and they are in urban centres, only with four in Galway and Cork, and two more in Dublin.
“As recently as October, there were a grand total of 72 inpatient beds across these six sites.
“The numbers of children waiting for access to CAMHS services being so consistently high for five years, at the very least, exposes that whatever additional funding or resources have been allocated to the service simply have not worked.
“Children and teenagers are still unable to access the essential services they need.
“In Ireland, mental health spending accounts for just 6% of the overall health budget. Mental Health Reform Ireland called for a minimum of 8% proportion to be directed into our mental health services, which have been historically underfunded. They called for €85 million for next year’s budget.
“The government’s shameful announcement of an additional investment of just €24 million falls short of what is needed to combat the incoming tsunami of mental health issues that our services cannot respond to, for children and adults alike. What was a broken system has been aggravated throughout the pandemic.
“Sinn Féin’s alternative budget would have provided €114 million for next year, with 276 additional psychologists to boost CAMHS over 18 months.
“The children of Ireland deserve better. Tá sé in am don athrú.”