Sinn Féin TD for Dublin South West Seán Crowe has said that the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) system is broken, forcing many parents into seeking expensive private diagnoses, only to find there is no public treatment available.

Speaking last night in the Dáil, Teachta Crowe said:

“The Mental Health Commission’s report into CAMHS highlighted several issues, including children lost to follow-up, lack of monitoring of psychiatric medicines, unacceptable waiting times for high-risk referrals and many more operational issues.

“When I chaired a meeting of the Joint Committee on Health in January, we heard that there were 4,400 children on the waiting list for their first CAMHS appointment. This number has almost doubled in the past five years. This lays bare any attempt by the Government to pretend it is making a difference.

“Many multidisciplinary teams across the State are missing key personnel, have long waiting lists and are unable to deliver supports and services for children and young adults. Children with a dual diagnosis of a mental health issue and an intellectual disability, and children with autism in particular, are being neglected in their refusal of CAMHS.

“This is clearly a broken system that forces many parents, who understandably want to get their children the help they need, into seeking expensive private diagnoses. When there is then no way of accessing public care, it forces them into private treatment and even greater expense. This is no way to treat vulnerable children and their families who need help from our mental health services.

“Services for adults are barely adequate, but it seems those for children are barely functional. Children cannot wait any longer for CAMHS to be reformed. No child, and certainly no sick or vulnerable child or young adult, should have to wait months or years for quality care within our mental health services.”