- In July 2023 the final report of the Mental Health Commission was published setting out major concerns that there are ongoing and serious deficits in CAMHS which is increasing the risk to children and young people. The Inspector of Mental Health Services, Dr Susan Finnerty, stated that she cannot currently provide an assurance to all parents in Ireland that their children have access to a safe, effective and evidence-based mental health service. Read our response to the report here.
- In January 2023 the Mental Health Commision Interim report was published highlighting an overwhelmed and poorly governed system with inadequate staffing and resources contributing to inefficient and unsafe CAMHS services.
Some key concerns identified included:
- Lost cases where children did not have appointments for up to two years
- Lack of monitoring of children on antipsychotic medication
- Lack of resources and staff
- Lack of governance leading to inefficient and unsafe CAMH Services
- Long waiting lists
- Wide variation in acceptance rates
- Unacceptable variations in care and supports provided
- Lack of capacity to provide appropriate therapeutic interventions
- Absent or poor care planning
- Lack of emergency CAMHS services and out-of-hour services
- Lack of joint working with other agencies
- Lack of administrative support / ICT systems
- In February 2023 the Observations of the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child raised serious concerns about the “insufficient and inadequate mental health services for children” in Ireland and urged the Government to “ensure the availability of therapeutic mental health services and programmes for children”, including by “significantly increasing the resources allocated for the implementation and monitoring of the mental health policy”.
- In May 2023 the Ombudsman for Children published its Children's Mental Health Survey which highlighted that of those who took part in the survey, waiting times was seen as the biggest challenge in accessing CAMHS and many young people found that the service failed to address their needs. Over a quarter believed that CAMHS staff were dismissive of them, while only 11% felt that staff listened to them.
The concerns and recommendations pointed to in recent reports are not new. The Mental Health Commission previously highlighted serious concerns in its 2017 Report relating to inadequate staffing, variation in funding, waiting lists, referrals and emergency cover. In the 2016 Observations, the United Nations Committee on the Rights of the Child recommended that the Government “undertake measures to improve the capacity and quality of its mental health services for children and adolescents”.
The below statistics illustrate the prevalence of mental health issues amongst young people in Ireland :
- In 2017, Ireland was ranked fourth highest in the EU/OECD region for teen suicide. For girls, Ireland ranked the highest for girls dying by suicide in Europe. [UNICEF Report Card 14]
Self-harm (including attempted suicide)
- The number of children aged 10-14 years who are self-harming has increased indicating that the age of onset of self-harm is decreasing. [2020 National Self-Harm Registry Ireland]
- In 2020, One in every 128 girls between the ages of 15-19 presented to hospital due to self-harm. [2020 National Self-Harm Registry Ireland]
- In 2021, Ireland ranked in the bottom one-third of 41 countries in the EU/OECD for child mental health. [UNICEF Report Card 16: Understanding what shapes Child-Wellbeing in Rich Countries].
78% of the children surveyed in the Ombudsman for Children's survey said they have experienced some form of mental health difficulties.