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More than 3,000 young people are waiting for mental health referrals

This represents an 11% increase on the same time period last year.

AS OF THE end of March more than 3,000 children and young people were waiting to be referred to mental health practitioners in Ireland.

The Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) waiting list had grown to 3,029 cases by 31 March: an 11% increase on the same period last year, when the figure stood at 2,731.

It is 20% (511 cases) above the year-end target of 2,518 cases.

Referrals accepted in the first quarter of 2014 increased by 6% and new cases seen increased by 12% compared to the same period in 2013.

Following on from a Parliamentary Question submitted by Deputy Thomas Broughan, the Office of the National Director in the Mental Health Services Division of the HSE informed him of the figures.

In correspondence seen by TheJournal.ie, the HSE confirmed that there were 1,259 referrals accepted by CAMHS Community Mental Health Teams in March; 72% of which were offered a first appointment and seen within 3 months. While this figure is below the target of 75%, it does demonstrate an improving trend month-on-month.

178 of the 232 development posts allocated to CAMHS in 2012 and 2013 have been filled.

Jim Ryan, the Head of Operations and Service Improvement in the HSE, informed Broughan that 92% (138) of the approved posts from mental health funding in 2012 had been filled, but – as of the end of April – only 52% (43) of approved posts from 2013 funding were filled.

Ryan wrote that a further 14.5 posts (18%) are at “an advanced stage in the recruitment process”.

CAMHS 2013 posts Source: HSE

The letter noted that the HSE was unable to fill 10.5 posts from the 2013 funding allocation “due to difficulties in identifying suitable candidates due to factors including availability of qualified candidates and geographic location”.

Broughan described the delay in filling these posts as “exasperating … particularly at a time when the number of referrals made to CAMHS continues to increase”.

The Dublin North-East Independent TD called on the health minister to work with the HSE to address the increased pressure on CAMHS.

It’s an area of the health budget that should be given continual priority. Urgent action needs to be taken by Minister Reilly or whoever his successor is.

Steering Group

In a separate letter, Carol Ivory from the HSE’s Mental Health Services Division said that an ‘improvement steering group’ had been established to review waiting times, the scope of treatment options available, clarity of information available to families and the interaction between CAMHS and other agencies both inside and outside the HSE.

Ivory told Broughan that the HSE’s Mental Health Division is “committed to ensuring that all aspects of CAMHS are delivered in a consistent and timely fashion regardless of where the service is accessed throughout the country”.

Broughan welcomed news of the steering group but said that another urgent issue also needed to be addressed, namely children being placed in adult psychiatric units.

A recent report found that 83 children were put into adult psychiatric units last year, despite the introduction of Mental Health Commission guidelines forbidding the practice in 2011.

Helplines:
• Samaritans 116 123 or email jo@samaritans.org
• Console 1800 201 890 – (suicide prevention, self-harm, bereavement)
• Aware 1890 303 302 (depression, anxiety)
• Pieta House 01 601 0000 or email mary@pieta.ie - (suicide, self-harm, bereavement)
• Teen-Line Ireland 1800 833 634 (for ages 13 to 19)
• Childline 1800 66 66 66 (for under 18s)

Read: TD says sending children to adult psychiatric units is ‘inhumane’

Read: Unsuitable treatment for children in mental health units

Read: Minister denies resource issue in area where 13 patients have died by suicide

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About the author:

Órla Ryan

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