Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Primary Care and TD for Kerry John Brassil says the latest report card from the Children’s Rights Alliance on the government’s performance in the area of children’s mental health services highlights all the missed targets and service deficiencies which Fine Gael has presided over in the past eight years.

The organisation has concluded that things have gotten worse for children with mental health issues in the last year – awarding the government a D-, compared to a D+ last year.

“Despite vowing time and time again that mental health would be made a priority, Fine Gael in government has failed to make the necessary improvements to services and now we have a situation where waiting lists for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services are unacceptably long; and children are still being treated in adult psychiatric units”, said Deputy Brassil.

“In the Cork/Kerry region there are over 700 children and young people waiting for an appointment with CAMHS.  Almost 150 of them are on the list for over a year.  This is clear failure of the government to get to grips with the demand for these services and ensure that the resources are in place to provide them.

“Staffing is still a major problem.  Despite the fact that A Vision for Change was published more than 12 years ago, there are just over half of the required number of staff in place to roll out the full strategy.  The situation with Children’s Mental Health Intellectual Disability Teams is much worse – 159 staff are needed to provide the services but only 12 are currently employed.  This is nothing short of a disgrace.

“We need to see major improvements with regard to access – it is not acceptable for a young person to languish on a waiting list for over one year before being seen.  Nor is it acceptable that the only option open to a young person to see a mental health specialist outside of regular business hours is if they present at a hospital Emergency Department.

“People have lost faith in this government’s ability to deal with the mental health challenges it faces.  “Must do better” is no longer acceptable.  This government cannot be allowed to make grand plans and announcements without delivering on its promises.  I will be ensuring that Ministers Harris and Daly are progressing these commitments and will continue to press for better services for children and young people in Kerry”, concluded Deputy Brassil.