October 27, 2023
Minister must clarify whether children with autism are excluded by CAMHS – Mark Ward TD

Sinn Féin Spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has called for a focus on supports for children with autism within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).

Deputy Ward was speaking following a presentation given to members of the Oireachtas by the group Families for the Reform of CAMHS.

Since 2020, 25,000 children who were referred to CAMHS have been refused treatment.

Teachta Ward said:

“This week I invited Families for Reform of CAMHS into the Oireachtas to address elected representatives and staff.

“This group is made up of over 400 families across the state, and they are growing every week.

“They have used their first-hand experiences of CAMHS to highlight the changes needed to reform services.

“Members of the Oireachtas heard moving personal testimonies about services denied to their children.

“They highlighted the lack of services within CAMHS for young people with autism.

“We heard how 59% of their members had a child with a diagnosis of autism and 85% of those felt that this diagnosis negatively impacted the service and support their child received.

“Children with autism are 28 times more likely to consider suicide, and 70% are estimated to have a dual diagnosis of a mental health disorder.

“Parents described how they feel that children with autism are excluded from CAMHS and even when they are accepted for treatment by CAMHS that they cannot avail of all the services.

“Autistic children in CAMHS with “a primary diagnosis of Autism” are currently excluded from accessing supports from the pilot phase of the launch of the CAMHS Hub programme.

“However, children with autism in CAMHS have already been deemed to reach the threshold of moderate/severe mental health issues.

“Why are they denied this service?

“I have raised the singling-out of children with autism with Minister Butler, have asked if this practice can be changed, and if children with autism are being excluded by CAMHS.

“Information I have received shows that over 25,000 children who were referred to CAMHS since 2020 were denied treatment.

“I have written to the Minister to see how many of these children had autism.

“The powerful testimonies that we heard this week, and the dedicated work being carried out by this group is a wake-up call for the Government to increase their efforts to improve CAMHS services.”

Parliamentary Question response regarding CAMHS referrals accepted/refused

Parliamentary Question response (table) regarding CAMHS referrals accepted/refused

Presentation made by Families for Reform of CAMHS in the Leinster House

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