CALLS have been made for the Minister for Health to prioritise investment in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services to reduce extreme wait times for urgently needed mental health services in Limerick.
Newly revealed data shows there are 385 children and young people on the waiting lists for services from the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Limerick and surrounding areas, double the number there were in 2020.
And almost one quarter of those have been waiting more than a year.
Deputy Maurice Quinlivan (SF) made the call in response to new data released by Parliamentary Question to Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, David Cullinane TD, which shows that waiting lists for CAMHS have more than doubled since January 2020 in CHO3, which covers Limerick.
Deputy Quinlivan said: “Child and adolescent mental health services are desperately underfunded. There are significant vacancies across existing CAMHS teams, and we do not have enough CAMHS teams across the state.”
“Waiting lists for CAMHS have more than doubled to 385 in January 2023 from 189 in January 2020.
“Urgent investment is needed in CAMHS to expand capacity and reduce wait times. 22 per cent of children in community healthcare area CHO3, which covers Limerick, are waiting longer than a year for their first appointment.
“There are 85 children waiting longer than a year, and 240 children waiting longer than three months for an appointment. The Minister must produce a plan for capacity expansion and workforce planning to address these waiting lists.
The Sinn Féin Deputy added: “There are 1,663 people across the state waiting for an appointment with Jigsaw. For those in Limerick awaiting a Jigsaw appointment they have an expected wait time of 18 weeks for their first appointment.”
Jigsaw is funded by the HSE to provide youth mental health services for those with mild to moderate mental health difficulties. They provide face-to-face, online, and phone-based services to young people aged between 12 to 25 years old while working with communities to resource and support parents and other adults who work with young people.
Deputy Quinlivan added: “We do not have enough psychiatrists, psychologists, or specialists in mental health and disability. This is leading to children who need help being turned away from services. The Minister for Health must prioritise investment in CAMHS to reduce extreme wait times for urgently needed mental health services.”