Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health Mark Ward TD has said the increase in waiting times for the Jigsaw youth mental health service is “extremely worrying”.
Teachta Ward has called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution.
Waiting times for an appointment with Jigsaw are currently up to 18 weeks, with some areas seeing a 700% increase in the length of waiting times.
Teachta Ward said:
“Figures released to me by the HSE through a Parliamentary Question have shown there are significant wait times for first appointments with Jigsaw, the mental health service which provides vital supports to young people.
“Demand for the Jigsaw service in my area of Dublin South West and across the State continues to grow. As a result, youths are waiting up to 19 weeks to get an appointment, with young people from Dublin South West currently waiting 16 weeks.
“There are 2,016 children waiting on a first appointment nationally. 272 of these children are from my own area.
“There has been an 88% increase in the length of waiting times in Dublin South West. In 2021, it was a 9 week waiting time for a first appointment, but that has increased to 17 weeks.
“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. These wait times are simply unacceptable and put those in need of help and their mental health at a very serious risk.
“Jigsaw has experienced a 25% increase in the demand for their services and this cry for help from our young people cannot fall on deaf ears.
“This increase in waiting time is most notable in Galway. In 2019 Galway had a 2 week waiting time for a first appointment.
“It currently stands at 16 weeks, which is a staggering 700% increase in the length of time vulnerable children are left waiting on a vital service.
“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.
“We need to move away from the postcode lottery for mental health treatment.
“I have called on the Minister to urgently engage with the service to provide a solution.”