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Report on Children’s Mental Health Services shows children’s mental health not being prioritised

The Ombudsman for Children, Dr Niall Muldoon has said that the report published by the Seanad Public Consultation Committee on Mental Health shows that children’s mental health services are still not being prioritised.

“While many of the recommendations made by the Seanad Public Consultation Committee on Mental Health are very positive, they will mean nothing if this report is left on a shelf to gather dust like many more before it.

“This report shows clearly that children’s mental health services in Ireland have not been prioritised. Services are not up to standard and children in all parts of the country have been failed again and again.

“Though there has been an increase in funding for mental health in recent years, the percentage of the total health budget for mental health has decreased from 13% in 1984 to the current 6.1%.  The lack of focus on mental health services is extremely disappointing, and that is before you consider that even less than 6.1% is going specifically towards children’s services.

“Speaking before the Committee in July I highlighted the need to make children’s mental health services in Ireland more child-centred. Children’s mental health services should provide for the children who need them, when they need them and in the way they need them.

“At the moment what a child receives very much depends on what the system can offer, rather than what the child needs. The child must make do with what is available. It depends on the area where they live, the primary care supports available there, whether or not there is a psychiatrist working in the area and a range of other factors.

“A new, standalone Vision for Change which specifically focuses on children is needed, as is a time-framed implementation plan.

“I truly believe that the majority of energy and resources should be going into primary care services to help children as early as possible. However, the Children and Adolescent Mental Health Service (CAMHS) CAMHs is also a vital part of the solution. It needs to be working much better.

“A time has also come for us to think creatively about how to overcome the problem of un-allocated posts. We cannot simply accept that these posts can’t be filled and therefore children must wait. There has to be another way.

“A Vision for Change set out an ambitious plan for mental health services back in 2006. Over ten years later that vision has not nearly been realised. This report offers some constructive solutions that would improve mental health services for children, but real focus and determination is needed to make changes that will benefit the thousands of children and young people who really need help.”


Aoife Carragher
Communications Manager
Ombudsman for Children’s Office
01 8656806