Four hundred children waiting over a year for mental health services

HSE figures show more than 4,000 on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services lists

Some 400 children and adolescents have been waiting for more than a year to access community mental health services, according to latest figures from the Health Service Executive (HSE).

More than a third of the children waiting more than 12 months for mental health services are in Cork and Kerry, which also have the highest overall number of youths waiting for services in the country.

The provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs) has come under renewed scrutiny following the temporary closure of about half of the 24 beds at Linn Dara in-patient mental health centre, due to staffing shortages.

The closure of 11 beds in the children’s mental health unit in Cherry Orchard Hospital in Dublin follows a similar forced reduction in its capacity in 2017.

Unfilled posts

The HSE has said there are 24 staff available out of 51 required to run the unit at full capacity, with the reduction in available beds likely to last until September.

Minister of State for Mental Health Mary Butler said the Government would "pull out all the stops" to address the issue.

She said there were difficulties filling posts for mental health services, with six consultant jobs currently vacant including one in south Kerry that had been funded in 2016 but not filled.

The HSE said there were 4,003 children on Camhs waiting lists for community services as of last month, a significant increase compared to 2,919 children waiting in April 2021.

The numbers on waiting lists vary by local HSE community area, ranging from 241 children in Galway/Roscommon/Mayo up to 699 children in Kerry/Cork.

Three-quarters of referrals accepted by community Camhs teams were offered appointments within 12 weeks, while more than 90 per cent of urgent cases were responded to within three working days, a HSE spokeswoman said.