Minister for Mental Health and Older People welcomes significant reduction in primary care psychology waiting lists for children and young people

Published on: 22 December 2021

The Minister for Mental Health and Older People, Mary Butler TD, has today welcomed a significant decrease in the numbers of children and young people under 18 waiting to access primary care psychology services in communities across the country.  

 Minister Butler stated that “there has been a very substantial reduction of just over 19% (or 1,026) among under 18s waiting more than 12 months to be seen by the service between March and October 2021. This achievement is of huge significance in improving the experiences of children, young people and their families seeking to access these vital services”.  

Minister Butler continued that “since coming into office last year, I was very concerned about the growing waiting lists in primary care psychology, particularly for children and young people – many of whom are experiencing mental health difficulties. There is also the potential to enhance the capacity of our specialist child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) by increasing resources within primary care. 

“Since announcing the approval of €4 million in August this year for the development of short-term initiatives in each Community Healthcare Organisation (CHO), it is clear that huge inroads have been made in tackling waiting lists”.  

A series of measures have successfully been implemented in all nine CHOs including the provision of overtime and increased hours of service operation; the use of private capacity; initial screening or once-off brief therapeutic appointments to supply individuals with support/information and re-prioritisation of people on the waiting lists, based on need.  

 Minister Butler concluded that: “although these measures have been focused on the shorter-term, they will continue to have an impact as we move into 2022, while work is ongoing on how best we can develop a sustainable primary care psychology service in the longer term. This is essential to enabling quicker and easier access to psychological support for children and families when they need it. The momentum built up over the last four months needs to be continued into 2022”.