Children’s mental health service extremely understaffed

Cáit Caden

Child looking sad Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures

Children are being neglected by the state as Children and Adolescent Mental Health Intellectual Disability (CAHMS) services are severely understaffed, according to the HSE.

CAHMS teams have less than 10 per cent the amount of staff required to provide resources to children while Adult Mental Health Intellectual Disability also struggles to provide services.

“For children with an intellectual disability such as autism or Down Syndrome who also have mental health issues, a lack of early intervention is nothing short of cruel,” said James Browne, Fianna Fáil spokesperson for mental health.

The figures were the result of the HSE mapping mental health services across Ireland as part of the Vision for Change strategy which gives an indication of the current state of services.Browne was supplied with these figures after he submitted a question concerning mental health services for children and adults.

“We can see how the lack of these services affect children everyday when they’re in school,” said Maureen Melvin, a special needs assistant in a primary school in the west of Ireland.

“If those children’s needs are not cared for at such a vulnerable age you can see them deteriorate. They’re not focused and worst of all they’re just not happy in a time when they’re meant to be the happiest and free,” she continued.

Browne called the findings “shocking” especially after they show 9 per cent of the required staff are providing this service for CAHMS after Vision for Change was set up over a decade ago. There is approximately 137 jobs needed to effectively provide the resources CAHMS are meant to.

“It doesn’t happen often that you see a truly sad child but in this day and age with so much pressure on children it may become more frequent,” added Melvin.

Researching on how to provide these services in a sustainable way is currently being done before more staff is hired.

At this point,  €2m in funding has already been  approved for building up this service.

By Cáit Caden

Image Credit: Public Domain Pictures