Written answers

Thursday, 5 March 2020

Department of Health

Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services

Photo of Bernard DurkanBernard Durkan (Kildare North, Fine Gael)
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882. To ask the Minister for Health when the child mental health service will be improved nationwide; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [3796/20]

Photo of Jim DalyJim Daly (Cork South West, Fine Gael)
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The development of all aspects of mental health services for young people remains a priority for Government. Mental health services, including those for young people, have benefited from significant additional investment over recent years. This has resulted in an overall provision of €1.026 billion for HSE Mental Health services in 2020, reflecting an increase of €315m since 2012 and an increase of €39m over 2019.

This additional funding has helped to increase the number of community-based CAMHS teams from 49 in 2008 to 71 today. The number of acute CAMHS beds has also increased, from 16 in 2008 to 74 in 2020. 30 additional beds are planned in the new Children’s Hospital and at the new National Forensic Mental Health Service at Portrane. This will bring the total CAMHS beds nationally to 104. The new complex at Portrane is scheduled to open on a phased basis from September 2020, with the new forensic CAMHS Unit, the first of its kind nationally, due to come on-stream in 2021.

There are acknowledged difficulties in recruiting and retaining specialist CAMHS staff, particularly Consultant Psychiatrists. Intensive recruitment efforts are ongoing but there is currently a shortage of suitably qualified CAMHS Consultants both at national and European level. Steady progress is being made by the HSE, however, in filling approved posts for mental health.

From 2012 to 2019, demand for services increased substantially, with an increase of 24% in CAMHs referrals accepted. Despite this, the CAMHs waiting list increased by only 4% over this period. Reducing the CAMHS Waiting List is a priority for the HSE. The CAMHS Waiting List nationally reduced from around 2,500 in December 2018 to around 2,300 in December 2019. This decrease has occurred, in part, due to new funding for 114 Assistant Psychologists and 20 Psychologists posts in Primary Care since 2018.

The HSE Service Plan 2020 prioritises further CAMHS improvements, including increased integration with Primary Care; developing a 7-day-a-week service to ensure improved supports; enhancing early intervention and day hospital care; improving in-patient and community based services; ensuring greater promotion and use of talk therapies; and developing Eating Disorder and Mental Health Intellectual Disability services. Mental Health service delivery to young people will also improve through the use of such e-mental health initiatives as the recently introduced phone helpline, a new text line, and digital supports including online counselling.

Further improvements for the planning and delivery of mental health services to young people are being progressed in the context of the refresh of A Vision For Change which has been completed and will be launched in the near future, along with updating the Mental Health Act 2001 which is now well advanced.


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