Sinn Fein TD for Dublin Mid-West Mark Ward has hit out at the lack of any mention of the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAHMs) in the Programme of Government announced yesterday.
The omission comes despite the fact that some children are waiting up to three years for an appointment.
Speaking today, Teachta Ward said: “Having worked for numerous years in frontline mental health and addiction services, this Programme for Government does not go far enough.
“We need mental health services available when you need them and where you need them.
“I was astonished to see no mention of CAHMS. This is despite that, at the beginning of this year, we had 2327 children waiting on services from CAHMS.
“212 of these children were waiting more than a year for an appointment, 52 children waiting two years, and seven children waiting for over three years. This is nowhere near good enough.
“CAHMS needs urgent attention. Waiting on appointments can lead to a deterioration in mental health of a child, hinder their development in education and other areas.
“There are no plans on how the incoming government will address these waiting lists or increase the amount of staff needed to deal with the future demands on the service.
“Mental health is a core component of the overall health of our young people and having no mention of the CAHMS shows a total disregard for our children’s futures.
“There is also a move to further rely on the charity sector and non-government organisations (NGOs) to plug the gaps in our mental health services.
“We have seen in the past how this has failed with the collapse of Console and, more recently, the announcement that the HSE are investigating the finances of Pieta House.
“This would-be government is already failing to recognise the need to move towards the provision of mental health services by the state instead of relying on charities to cover successive government failings.
“The programme also seeks to expand the remit of the National Treatment Purchase Fund for mental health services. We should be directly funding public mental health services right now; this Programme for Government will once again depend on the private market to solve the systemic problems in our public services.
“There is also a mention of expanding the services provided by JIGSAW, which people from my constituency of Dublin Mid-West will find hard to believe after campaigning for the retention of a five-day-a-week comprehensive JIGSAW service in North Clondalkin that is being reduced to a possible one or two-day a week satellite service.
“We need a government that can adopt a modern outlook on mental health reform and to develop an understanding of the changed world we live in so that we can respond better to society’s needs.
“We could be on the verge of a mental health tsunami post COVID 19 and we need investment in mental health services right now.”