Friday 22 November 2019

Battle for proper children’s mental health services for county continues

Wexford Mental Health Warriors protesting at Slaney House, Newtown Road, Wexford last week
Wexford Mental Health Warriors protesting at Slaney House, Newtown Road, Wexford last week

Pádraig Byrne

Activists from Wexford Mental Health Warriors cut a familiar path outside of the location of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in Wexford town, Slaney House, in the latest protest against the shocking lack of mental health services for children.

Even this week, teenagers from Wexford town continue to be placed in adult psychiatric services in Waterford, a situation that is completely unsuitable and inappropriate but has been ongoing for some time. While work is ongoing on a new building for CAMHS services at Arden House in the Whitemill Industrial Estate, the warriors have major concerns over a lack of staff and a perceived dragging of the feet by the HSE when it comes to addressing the issue. There were plenty of honks of support for the group gathered on the footpath outside Slaney House and they have vowed to keep the pressure on until CAMHS in Wexford are fully staffed and housed in an appropriate building.

Meanwhile, Fianna Fáil spokesperson on mental health James Browne this week brought a private members motion before the Dáil, accusing Fine Gael of causing 'irreparable damage' to mental health services by 'allowing them to slip down the priority list'. Deputy Browne said that the Mental Health Commission's annual report and the report from the Inspector of Mental Health Services contained 'stark and worrying findings'.

'These reports identified real problems with governance and management deficits within our mental health services, as well as issues with seclusion and physical restraint in services for young people,' he said.

'Last year 84 children and teenagers were admitted to adult units, up from 68 in 2016. This is a worrying development, that is contrary to best practice, and which can impact on the outcomes of these young people because adult units are simply not equipped to deal with their needs.'

Deputy Browne also raised the issue of chronically low staffing levels and huge waiting lists, before stressing the importance of early intervention when it comes to mental health issues in children.

'A new sense of urgency needs to be brought to addressing the deficits in children's services in particular. Otherwise the requirements set out by A Vision for Change will never be realised,' he concluded.

Wexford People

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