Children Waiting a Year for Mental Health Treatment; Shortage of Staff Leaves 900 without Care
Byline: Petrina Vousden Health Editor
HUNDREDS of children who suffer from eating disorders and depression are being forced to wait a year to see specialists.
A shortage of staff means almost 900 children are being forced to endure long waits to access mental health services in the community, according to a HSE report.
The study, which is the first of its kind in Ireland, showed that 897 children are waiting more than 52 weeks to get assessed by mental health experts.
Children referred to the community teams include those who self-harm, have eating disorders or suffer from mental illnesses such as depression.
A total of 3,117 children and teenagers were waiting to be seen by Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services at the end of November last year. A third of those, or 1,057, were seen within fewer than 13 weeks.
A total of 495 children waited between 13 and 26 weeks for assessment.
A further 668 were waiting between 26 and 52 weeks for assessment.
But 897 - or almost 29 per cent - of the list were waiting for assessment for more than 52 weeks. The data is contained in the First Annual Report on Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services, which was released by HSE chief Professor Brendan Drumm yesterday.
It features the activities of the 54 Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services across the country, which assess and treat children up to the age of 15 with mental health problems.
Ninety nine such teams were recommended under the nation's mental health strategy Vision for Change which was published in 2006.
Labour health spokesman Jan O'Sullivan said the report proved the HSE is failing to provide the resources to help children with mental illnesses. …