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Over 1,200 adults waiting three months-plus for counselling, says HSE

Peadar Tóibín blames staff shortages and mental healthcare cutbacks for delays

Peadar Tóibín TD: “What is most distressing is that these are very vulnerable people and children that need help urgently.” Photograph: Dara Mac Donaill

More than 1,200 adults who need to see a counsellor have been waiting for more than three months, according to the latest figures from the Health Service Executive.

Almost 300 people who have been referred for care have been waiting for more than six months, with the worst backlogs in the west of Ireland.

Meath West TD Peadar Tóibín, who obtained the figures from the HSE, said the waiting lists are a consequence of a lack of staff and Government spending on mental healthcare.

He said there were 2,560 children currently on the Child and Mental Health Service (CAMHS) waiting list, almost 300 of whom have been waiting more than a year to be seen.

In total, there are 3,345 adults on waiting lists for counselling services, according to the HSE, citing latest available figures.

Very vulnerable

Some 626 are waiting up to a month, another 1,457 are waiting up to three months, 974 for as long as six months and 288 still haven’t been seen by a counsellor after six months.

“This means that there are almost 6,000 people waiting for counselling services in the State. What is most distressing is that these are very vulnerable people and children that need help urgently, not a few months or a year down the road,” Mr Tóibín said.

A breakdown of the figures shows the vast majority (225) of those waiting for more than six months are in the west of Ireland. Another 365 in the west are waiting for as long as three months and 437 are waiting up to six months.

Next worst is north Dublin, where 263 are waiting up to three months and 158 for as long as six months. By comparison, parts of south Dublin and Wicklow have 14 waiting up to three months and just one for up to six months.

Almost 14 per cent of England’s health budget goes on mental health, according to its National Health Service, compared to just 6 per cent in Ireland.

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