Children and a crisis in mental health

Early intervention is crucial

Sir, – The very fact that the Mental Health Commission felt compelled to issue an interim report on the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (Camhs) is illustrative of the magnitude of the crisis facing the service.

The findings of the report, as revealed in The Irish Times, are sadly not a surprise for those of us working to support children and young people (Kitty Holland, “Camhs left more than 100 children without care for up to two years, report finds”, News, January 23rd).

Robust and immediate Government leadership is required.

We hear regularly of the mounting concern around children and young people’s mental health, yet this concern is not being met with the necessary action – and certainly not at pace.


I find it incredible that Government and those responsible for the operations of Camhs are shocked or appalled by the findings of the Mental Health Commission’s report. Seasoned broadcasters and professionals have all stated how they’ve heard of and seen these inadequacies for years. A senior management liability provision was introduced into the Online Safety and Media Regulation Act; do we need something similar for our mental health services?

Children and young people’s mental health has for far too long been the “poor relation” when it comes to budget consideration and Government priority.

In our experience, not every child who is currently on a Camhs waiting list should have ended up there. We believe that early intervention services could make a real difference to a child’s life and ensure that many of those on the waiting list no longer need to be there.

To give reassurance to the children and families who do need to avail of Camhs, we need to understand what has been put in place now and for future improvement.

We will always need a child and adolescent mental health service for the few. But let’s work together to ensure that it is just the “few” who need it and that other interventions are made available to children at a prevention and early intervention level.

At the Irish Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Children (ISPCC), mental health concerns are one of the primary reasons why children and young people contact us.

We recognise that children and families hearing of the findings of this report may be experiencing a range of emotions. ISPCC and its suite of Childline services are here for all children and young people, whenever a child needs to get in touch, and however they find that safest and easiest.

Camhs is a service that is broken. It is difficult to draw any other conclusion. We remain firmly convinced that the Youth Mental Health Pathfinder unit must be initiated without further delay to meaningfully tackle the crisis in our mental health services.

Mental health must be a core focus of the next national strategy for children and young people, with funding ring-fenced for universal and targeted services. – Yours, etc,



Irish Society for the

Prevention of Cruelty

to Children,

Dublin 4.