Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health Colm Keaveney TD has called on Minister Kathleen Lynch to provide a date for the HSE to cease the practice of admitting children to adult wards. He described the Government’s failure to provide adequate mental health care for children as “utterly appalling” following a report by the Children’s Mental Health Coalition, which revealed increasing waiting lists and times for children requiring mental health appointments and treatment.
Deputy Keaveney commented, “The findings of this latest study confirm what we have been saying for some time. The Government’s commitment to A Vision for Change has been lack lustre to say the least. Despite claims from Minister Kathleen Lynch that the implementation of the programme is a priority, waiting times for children with mental health issues are increasing. Almost 3,000 children are waiting for an appointment, with more than 400 on a list for over a year.
“Children are suffering unnecessarily as a result of the Government’s attitude towards mental health services. Last year Minister Lynch failed to spend the allocated budget and has stood over these increasing waiting lists.
“The practice of admitting children to adult psychiatric wards is shameful and must be stopped. It is a gross violation of their human rights and yet last year one third of all child and teenage admissions were to adult wards. This is completely unacceptable and raises serious questions about the safety of this practice. Are child protection guidelines being enforced in the adult wards where children are admitted? These are some of the most vulnerable children in our society and it is essential that they are protected. Is the Minister fully satisfied that staff in these adult wards are fully trained and experience to care for these children?
“The Government’s record on mental health makes for grim reading. Services for children are grossly inadequate and appear to be deteriorating further. Funds allocated specifically for the sector have gone unspent, while waiting lists continue to grow. Mental health services are buckling under the increased demand but the Government is continuing to bury its head in the sand. This is not good enough. The Minister must reassess her priorities and ensure that adequate resources and training are put in place to deal with this ever escalating crisis”.