Dáil debates

Wednesday, 24 March 2021

Ceisteanna - Questions

Cabinet Committees

2:15 pm

Photo of Mary Lou McDonaldMary Lou McDonald (Leader of the Opposition; Dublin Central, Sinn Fein) | Oireachtas source

The fact that the committee has not met since November is alarming, frankly. It raises a question mark around the urgency and order of priority being attached to children and younger people, especially in the context of the public health emergency.

I have had conversations with community and voluntary organisations that provide support and mental healthcare and related services to adults and young people. Those involved have been telling me loudly and clearly that access to care is a major problem. The 2,500 children on the CAMHS waiting lists have been referenced. We should bear in mind that almost 9,000 children are waiting for a psychology appointment as well. Our spend on mental health is too low by international standards. A paper authored by clinical and public mental health specialists in May last year warned us that we were facing into a tsunami of mental health need. This is felt across society but it is felt acutely among our children and young people in particular.

We have published proposals for emergency investment in mental health. My colleague, Deputy Mark Ward, has put the initiative together to provide surge capacity for mental healthcare, to provide in an emergency way for talk therapies and to ensure that young people, children in particular, have quick access to vital emergency services. I am keen for these proposals to be considered and for urgency to be attached to this area. This is a difficult time for all of us, but, by God, some children and young people have had an extraordinarily difficult time. We need to respond with all due urgency and priority.

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