Fianna Fáil Spokesperson on Mental Health James Browne TD says the Government must move to adequately staff mental health services for children.

Deputy Browne made the comments after receiving new information which shows that at least fifteen counties have no access to an out of hours Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) team.

“It’s clear that our mental health services have been struggling in recent years due to a lack of investment and increasing demand. New information which I have received sets out the enormous challenges facing our mental health services for children in particular,” said Deputy Browne.

“No on-call service is available in counties Wexford, Cavan, Monaghan, Sligo, Leitrim, Kerry, Carlow, Kilkenny, Tipperary, Meath, Longford, Westmeath, Laois, Offaly and Louth. This is shocking and clearly demonstrates the patchy nature of our mental health services. Questions have also been raised over the availability of on-call services in Donegal, Waterford and Clare. This represents vast swathes of the country which are left without an effective out-of-hours service.

“There has been increased demand for these services in recent years. Despite this the Government has continued to under-fund our mental health services. This attitude needs to change, particularly when you consider the demographic changes that Ireland faces in the years ahead. It is vital that the availability of out-of-hours mental health services for children is spread evenly across the country.

“The Mental Health Commission has already highlighted that under-investment in services for children is one of the factors contributing to the continuing high number of admissions of children to adult psychiatric units. This practice is one which must come to an end. The delivery of 24-hour emergency services for children is fundamental in helping to achieve this.

“I have previously called for a considerable increase in recruitment to Child and Adolescent Community Mental Health Teams. The 2015 figures showed that they have just over half of the needed staff required under the policy, ‘A Vision for Change’.

“We have to remember that in Ireland one in four of the population is under 18 years of age. It’s not good enough that the mental health services available to them continue to be under-resourced,” said Deputy Browne.