Meath CHO Area has Second Highest Waiting List for Child Mental Health Services With 67 Children Waiting Over a Year - Emer Tóibín
Aontú Councillor Emer Tóibín, has secured statistics from the HSE which show that the counties of Laois, Offaly, Longford. Westmeath, Louth and Meath (Community Health Organisation 8) make up the second highest waiting list in the country for children trying to access mental health services.
According to a response from the General Manager of the National Mental Health Services to a query from the political party Aontú, there are nearly 700 children on the CAMHS waiting list, the second highest waiting list in the country.
Speaking today, Cllr Tóibín said: “Shockingly, 67 of these children have been waiting for more than a year. 55 of them have been waiting for between ten months and a year. 113 of them have been waiting for between six and ten months. 137 have been waiting for between three and six months while the remaining 315 have been waiting for up to three months. The failure to proactively resource and staff these critical services means current and future suffering will further disadvantage these children in their formative and important years”.
Cllr Tóibín continued: “I’ve spoken to psychiatrists in an attempt to determine what the potential effects of a child’s treatment or assessment being delayed for a year, could be. A child with depression experiences difficulties with sleep, appetite, energy and concentration. Due to lack of concentration, they may struggle with school work and fall behind academically. They might be withdrawn, and as a result become disconnected from their peer group. Untreated, they may deteriorate to a point where they might require hospitalisation or even become suicidal. If a child has ADHD, he or she can continue to have difficulties concentrating or sitting still, which can have a big impact on academic and social potential. In older children and teenagers, there may even be a greater risk of this resulting in the young person developing problems with substances”.
“A child with emotional problems will need psychological support to address these difficulties. Without this they are at risk of developing worse problems and potentially changes in behaviour. The potential to prevent all this suffering and delayed progression is within the gift of our healthcare provider, however waiting lists are getting longer and children are feeling abandoned. The College of Psychiatrists has said that CAHMS is limping along with 72 teams where 130 are required and that they have only half of the staff required. The shocking report into malpractice and the substandard treatment of children in south Kerry's Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service, CAMHS, found that more than 200 children were put at significant risk of harm. What other shortcomings have been or will be brought to light by the promised audit of all CAMHS Units around the country?”
“Recruitment problems and delays run to the heart of inadequate mental healthcare provision across our State according to the HSE. The recent ‘Be on Call for Ireland’ campaign run by the Department. of Health at the start of Covid, attracting the registration of over 70,000 healthcare applicants only resulted in the recruitment of less than 470 people. This raises very serious concerns over the HSE’s ability to staff the much-needed healthcare positions in a very timely manner. We all know that the costs of poor delivery in this area today are multiples of what will come down the line in terms of all the supports and catch up needed to rehabilitate these suffering children. Proactive and long-term planning in mental health services is needed now more than ever. No child should be left over a year waiting for treatment, and yet we know that there are 67 of them in Meath and the surrounding counties who have been waiting for more than a year. These delays do have consequences and we cannot simply look the other way”, concluded Cllr Tóibín