ALMOST 140 children and young people in Donegal are currently waiting for an appointment with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (Camhs).
Figures provided to the Donegal News show 136 children and young people are currently waiting to be seen across the three Camhs teams in the county
North Donegal has the highest number of children and young people waiting for an appointment, at 77.
Fifteen of those waiting have been on the waiting list for between six to nine months, while 39 people have been waiting up to three months to be seen.
In South Donegal 43 children and young people are awaiting for an appointment, with 13 of those waiting three to six months. Twenty-two are waiting up to three months, while two people have been waiting between 12 and 15 months.
Meanwhile, in Inishowen 16 children and young people are waiting to be seen by Camhs, the majority of whom have been waiting for up to three months (12), while four have been on the waiting list for between three to six months.
As of December 2022, 426 children and young people nationally are awaiting an appointment with Camhs.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin TDs for Donegal, Deputy Pádraig Mac Lochlainn and Deputy Pearse Doherty, have called for cross-party support for their party’s proposals that would ensure mental health services for children and young people in Donegal 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 this evening.
Teachta Doherty said, “The government needs to act 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.
“The government have failed to act to ensure that we have mental health services that are fit for purpose for our children and young people. Sinn Féin wants to offer solutions.
“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 an integrated IT system to improve quality of care.
“Early intervention is key. Children and young people must have access to mental health services when and where they need them.
“The majority of acute long-term mental health difficulties develop between the ages of 16 and 25. Therefore, services should be extended to 25 to prevent ‘cliff edge’ of 18.
“We want accountability and so are calling for a national clinical director for mental health, a role that was removed in 2016.
“We must also 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.
“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.”
Teachta MacLochlainn added:
“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 in Donegal who has experience accessing CAMHS. They know too well that this government has been failing young people.
“We have outlined the key steps needed to ensure that CAMHS is reformed to give patients the high-quality and timely care they need.
“The immediate priority is to locate all the children who have been lost to follow up and to ensure that they have the appropriate mental health supports in place.
“Sinn Féin in government would prioritise delivering change in our healthcare system so that mental health services are fit for purpose.”
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