Over 1,600 children waiting over a year for a psychologist appointment

Róisín Phelan

109 children under the age of four have been waiting over a year for a psychologist appointment.

Over 6,000 teens and children are awaiting psychologist appointments in Ireland, new figures released by the HSE reveal.

This figure, among others relating to the age of the children, and lengths of their waits were released by Fianna Fáil mental health spokesperson James Browne who said, “these figures are very worrying and should act as a wake-up call for Ministers Harris, Daly and indeed all of their Cabinet colleagues.”

The figures show that 6,340 children were waiting to receive an appointment with a psychologist by the end of August this year and that 1,607 children had been on the waiting list for over a year. 109 of these particular children were under the age of four.

Browne said the waiting period is, “causing immense stress and anxiety to the children and families trapped on the list.”

They divided the children by age group and into nine different geographical locations called Community Health Organisations (CHOs).

This division showed the differences between waiting lists in different areas of Ireland. For example, CHO4, which accounted for Cork and Kerry had 499 children on waiting lists between ages four and 17.

Whereas CHO6, which accounted for Wicklow, Dublin south-east and Dun Laoghaire, had no children between ages four and 17 on a waiting list.

There were several other examples of great differences between waiting lengths across the county displaying the disparities between demand and available service in different CHOs.

DCU offers counselling services to its students, however, students say it’s waiting lists are also lengthy.

A DCU student who avails of the colleges counselling services, Liam De Brún, said that the waiting lists are two weeks long at a minimum, describing the time as, a “horrific wait time for support while you’re going through a hard time,” stating that it’s “basically another two weeks of being alone.”

De Brún said: “Having to wait is an excruciating process because you don’t even know how long you’ll have to wait.”

He said he thought that the waiting period is so long because of the large numbers of students trying to access the services, but that students need “instant access to services because a couple of weeks is not ideal when you’re going through hell.”

This comes after the announcement that there were a record number of 718,000 people on waiting lists to be seen or be treated by a doctor in September of this year.

In June, Minister for Health Simon Harris said that reducing waiting periods was a “key priority,” for him and that he planned to do so by, “seeking to build new capacity through the National Development Plan.”

Róisín Phelan

Image Credit: Pschology Today