Vulnerable children and mental health

 

Sir, – We are a group of GPs who practise in disadvantaged areas (deepend.ie), many of us for over 15 years. As GPs working with vulnerable children on a daily basis, we agree with the concerns outlined in the report of the Ombudsman for Children (“Ombudsman calls for increased mental health funding”, News, June 14th).

The communities we work in have a higher prevalence of mental health issues, particularly in children and adolescents, and we are extremely concerned about the current state of services across the whole spectrum, from prevention and early intervention, to treatment for severe mental illness.

The neglect of children suffering mental distress leads to untold damage in terms of education, employment prospects, criminality and future mental health.

There is no recognition of the need for resources to match the differing needs of local populations, leading to marked health inequalities, which can have a profound life-long impact. In many disadvantaged areas, the waiting time for child psychology services is excessive. In some areas, it is now over a year, and in the case of an acutely distressed child, this is completely unsafe and unacceptable.

In the current context of limited child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS), it is vital that community services be vastly improved and easily accessible.

There is overwhelming international evidence that early intervention reduces future adverse outcomes and we need services resourced to address the needs of our most vulnerable citizens to ensure a brighter future for us all. – Yours, etc,

Prof SUSAN SMITH,

Dublin 8;

Dr ANNA BEUG,

Dublin 8;

Dr EDEL McGINNITY,

Dublin 15;

Dr ANNE O’BRIEN,

Dublin 15;

Dr SARAH FITZGIBBON,

Cork;

Dr MARK WHEELER,

Dublin 5;

Dr JOHN DWYER,

Dublin 5;

Dr BRID SHANAHAN,

Dublin 1;

Dr PATRICK O’DONNELL,

Limerick;

Dr BRIGID KIELY,

Dublin 1;

Dr KATE MacSWEENEY,

Dublin 5;

Dr ANNA MARIE

NAUGHTON, Cork;

Dr JOHN DELAP,

Dublin 5;

Dr DAVID GIBNEY,

Dublin 11.