‘The call to cherish all the children of the nation rings hollow’

When children are refused treatment their wellbeing can deteriorate as a result

The interim report of the Mental Health Commission and the almost simultaneous announcement by the HSE about the care of patients at North Kerry CAMHS raises many questions about the treatment of patients, a Kerry TD has said.

Deputy Pa Daly said the North Kerry announcement, while welcome, does not state when the full review over 15 years will commence.

“While families I spoke to over the weekend hope that this report will be another step in the right direction and should prioritise the need for a better system in Cork/Kerry, the necessary steps have not yet been taken,” he said.

He said the children of those who can pay can access treatment and those who can’t will have to join the waiting lists and many health professionals are saying that the psychiatrist-led approach should be questioned.

Deputy Pa Daly: A complete overhaul is necessary as the system is clearly not fit for purpose

“A complete overhaul is necessary as the system is clearly not fit for purpose. Professionals in the field have been saying this and now the Mental Health Commission has said it.

“Too many children have suffered from over-prescription and it is heartbreaking to see that, even still, some teams are not monitoring psychotropic medication and not escalating cases as they feel there is no point.

“There is also a lack of planning when patients become 18 with some having to wait two years for an appointment,” Deputy Daly said.

“The call to cherish all the children of the nation equally rings particularly hollow in this case,” he added.

Meanwhile, children’s charity Barnardos is calling on the Government to improve supports for children in care experiencing mental health issues in response to the report by the Mental Health Commission which highlighted significant deficits in the Child and Adolescent Mental Health System (CAMHS).

The charity branded the commission’s report as “extremely concerning”.

“When children are refused CAMHS support, for example for failure to meet thresholds, there is often nowhere else appropriate for them to go to get appropriate mental health support. Their mental health and wellbeing can deteriorate as a result,” said Freda McKittrick of Barnardos.

“Nowhere is this more concerning than for children in the care of the State,” she said, adding that these children are often among the most vulnerable in the country.

In addition to mental health issues they will often have experienced significant trauma and be suffering from additional adversities.

Barnardos said the lack of a multi-disciplinary approach for children in care around mental health support jeopardises their mental health as well as the care they receive for other needs they have such as in relation to a disability diagnosis.

“A lack of adequate mental health can exacerbate their issues, further traumatise them and lead to a deterioration of their health and wellbeing.

“In this way, the State can fail in their duty to protect these children, particularly concerning as their families and parents are not in a position to advocate further on their behalf. This needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency,” the charity said.

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