New information provided to Fianna Fáil Mental Health spokesperson James Browne shows that Children and Adolescent Mental Health Intellectual Disability Teams have fewer than 1 in 10 of the number of staff required to provide the service.

The figures contained in a Parliamentary Reply reveal that only 9% of the necessary staff are currently employed.

“The 2006 Vision for Change Strategy recommended the establishment of Children and Adolescent Mental Health Intellectual Disability Teams to deliver the appropriate level of service.  However, the fact that more than 12 years after its publication, only 9% of the staff required are in place, is truly shocking.  This is an abject failure of successive Fine Gael governments.  At this rate of progress we’ll have to wait another hundred years for a full complement”, said Deputy Browne.

“A Vision for Change – our national mental health strategy document – pointed out that the widespread acceptance that people with intellectual disability can also have a mental health problem had been a recent development, and went on to state that ‘services have been slow to respond to this need’. Sadly, twelve years later, this remains true.

“Early intervention for children with mental health issues is critical. But for children with an intellectual disability such as autism or Down Syndrome, who also have mental health issues, a lack of early intervention is nothing short of cruel. Children and adolescents with an intellectual disability are four times more likely to have diagnosable mental health problems compared to others their age but because of their intellectual disability they may find it more difficult to deal with those mental health problems.

“Despite this, they are the least likely to get the support that they so badly need. It is a gross inequality.  Unfortunately, it appears from these figures that those who are most vulnerable and least able to speak up for themselves are lowest priority for the HSE.

“The HSE answered my question by way of percentage as opposed to actual staff numbers but my understanding is that 150 staff would be needed for the children’s teams – so there’s a shortfall of around 137 positions. For adults, around 300 posts are required and around 100 are in place.

“Children’s mental health services are in a state of crisis in many parts of the country, but the gaps in provision for these vulnerable children is even more shocking. It’s yet another example of Fine Gael failing to deliver”, concluded Deputy Browne.