More than 250 under-18s wait a year for mental health services


ALMOST 250 under-18s were waiting more than 12 months for mental health services at the end of last year, Health Service Executive figures show.

Referrals to the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) were up by more than 10 per cent on the same time in 2010.

The figures, released as part of the HSE’s monthly performance reports, show almost 2,000 children who had been referred to child and adolescent mental health services were waiting more than three months for an appointment.

There were 43 under-18s admitted to child and adolescent inpatient units last year and a further 131 were admitted to adult mental health units. There were also 17 involuntary admissions last year.

The HSE West area had the largest number of children and adolescents waiting to access services for over 12 months at 130, making up more than half of the national total. And a further 163 under-18s in the area were waiting between six and 12 months to be seen. This compared with 83 in HSE South waiting over 12 months, 26 in HSE Dublin Mid Leinster and three in Dublin North East.

Despite the growing numbers of referrals to the services, waiting lists had generally improved, according to the report. Almost 2,500 under-18s were waiting over three months to be seen at the end of 2010, compared with almost 2,000 at the end of 2011. And the numbers waiting over 12 months had also reduced over the period by almost 100.

Targets set for the service by the specialist CAMHS advisory group, that 70 per cent of people referred would be seen within three months, were not reached for the year, though they were reached in December.

And of the planned 99 CAMHS teams envisaged under mental health policy A Vision for Change, only 61 have been put in place since it was published six years ago. Of these, 56 were teams based in the community. Last year, almost 13,000 under-18s were referred to these services and just under 70 per cent were accepted as they met the “criteria operated by the teams”, the report said.