Sinn Fein spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, has called for an end to the postcode lottery of services for children attending the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
Figures released today show that over 4,300 children are waiting on a first-time appointment with CAMHS, with huge discrepancies on how long a child has to wait based on where they live.
Teachta Ward said:
“Figures released this morning regarding the number of our young people waiting on vital mental health services are of no surprise.
“Under this Government, waiting lists for CAMHS have only gone one way and that is up.
“There are now over 4,300 young people waiting on a first-time appointment with CAMHS. When this Government was formed in 2020, this list was at 2,115 children.
“This is a 106% increase under this Government’s watch.
“What is even more concerning is that 735 of these children have been waiting for over a year for CAMHS services which is a 209% increase since 2020.
“Access to Children’s mental health services should be based on need and not where you live.
“A postcode lottery of care has developed which has led to some children waiting longer for an appointment based on their location.
“CHO 4, which includes Kerry, has the largest number of young people waiting on an appointment with CAMHS, currently standing at 976.
“Kerry was the subject of the Maskey report, which was a damning indictment of CAMHS. This report was published in January 2022 and the government has failed to act.
“There have been numerous reports into CAMHS recently, which have shown the inefficiencies by both government and HSE.
“The increase is right across the state with CHO 2, which covers Mayo, Roscommon and Galway, showing the largest increase of 600% in young people waiting on mental health care since this Government was formed.
“If children do not get early intervention mental health supports at primary care level, they are more likely going to need the more acute services provided by CAMHS.
“The Primary Care Psychology waiting list for children now stands at 16,253 with 6,129 children waiting for over a year.
“The 2020 figures were 9,689 waiting and 5,353 over a year so that’s 68% of children waiting on primary care mental health supports.
“We have gone beyond crisis point in children’s mental health care and the Minister has gone missing.
“The latest Mental Health Commission report had 49 recommendations and I have no idea if the Government will act on them.
“Sinn Féin has published a plan that will transform child and youth mental health services out of a state of crisis.
“Capital investment and accountability reforms are needed in the sector, along with planning for staff to meet the demands of the service.
“We have set out achievable policies, grounded in reality and based on evidence, to deliver the ambitious change that is needed.
“There is also a cliff-edge in our mental health services for young people at 18. There is inconsistent continuity of care, and many young people fall out of services or never access them.
“These failures mean that early intervention is passing our young people by.”