Sinn Féin TD Johnny Guirke has called for cross-party support for their party’s proposals that would ensure mental health services for children and young people are properly resourced, fully staffed and provide support when and where they are needed.
The proposals, introduced by Sinn Féin spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward TD, and spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, will be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday.
The Meath West deputy told Meath Live, “Scandals in our CAMHS were laid bare once more last week, and the government needs to act urgently to ensure that we have services that are fit for purpose for our children and young people. The current services are not, and there are serious concerns and risks for patients currently accessing CAMHS.
“We have young children waiting long times just to get an initial assessment to get into the system, which could take up to 2 or 3 years to get.
“Many children are waiting up to four years for speech and language therapy, and occupational therapy. These waiting times are too long.
“Where the government has failed, Sinn Féin wants to offer solutions.
“Our spokesperson on Mental Health, Mark Ward, and spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane, would reform mental health services to ensure that they are properly resourced and fully staffed.
“Early intervention is key – all children and young people deserve the opportunity to reach their potential. Children and young people must have access to mental services when and where they need them.
“Services should be extended to 25 to prevent ‘cliff edge’ of 18. The majority of acute long-term mental health difficulties develop between ages of 16 and 25.
“We are calling for multi-annual funding for CAMHS to be able to operate and forward-plan, to be able to properly staff teams, and we are calling for integrated IT system to improve quality of care
“We want accountability in mental health services and so are calling for a national clinical director for mental health, a role that was removed in 2016.
“Sinn Féin wants to empower CAMHS to be able to respond to issues raised in the Mental Health Commission’s interim report.
“The report did not come as a shock to any family who has experience of accessing CAMHS. They know too well that this government has been failing young people as waiting lists have dramatically increased under their watch.
“We must introduce national standards for monitoring antipsychotic medication.
“We must develop a joined-up and comprehensive health and social care workforce strategy to increase education places and training opportunities between the Departments of Health and Higher Education, the HSE, Regional Health Areas/Hospital Groups, and higher education institutions.
“We must increase undergraduate and post-graduate courses and training places for mental health professions based on evidence for required staffing levels and projected population needs to reduce reliance on overtime and international recruitment.
“Our mental health services are in crisis and we can do so much better.
“We owe it to our children and young people to deserve hope, solutions and mental health services that are fit for purpose.”