Limerick child mental health waiting lists cut by one third in a year

Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan.

CHILDRENS’ mental health services in Limerick have cut waiting lists by more than one third since the end of April last year.

That’s according to a spokesman for the health service, who told the Limerick Post that the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) has seen a 35 per cent decrease in their waiting lists in Limerick since April 2022.

At present, there are 219 children in Limerick awaiting for an initial assessment, 69 of whom are waiting more than a year.

The spokesman was responding to comments from Limerick Sinn Féin TD Maurice Quinlivan, who has called for the Minister for Health to prioritise investment in youth mental health services to reduce wait times. 

New data revealed through a Parliamentary Question shows there are 385 children and young people on the waiting lists for services from CAMHS in Limerick and surrounding areas, double the number recorded in 2020.

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Almost one quarter of these have been waiting for more than a year.

However, the HSE spokesman pointed out that local services are making some headway in decreasing waiting lists, bringing numbers down by 35 per cent since this time last year.

Deputy Quinlivan said that child and adolescent mental health services are desperately underfunded. There are significant vacancies across existing CAMHS teams, and there are not enough CAMHS teams across the State.

“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.

The spokesman for the HSE mental health services in Limerick agreed that “there are currently increased numbers of children presenting with acute mental health difficulties” across the Mid West, noting that, in the past year, the HSE have appointed 2.6 whole time equivalent additional CAMHS-registered consultants to the CAMHS service in Limerick City and County to help support growing demand for services.

“Approval has been granted for the recruitment of additional staff to strengthen CAMHS Teams across the Mid West. Recruitment is currently underway,” the spokesman added.