Mother shares story of service at 'crisis point'
The mother of a former service user of the Child and Mental Health Service (CAMHS) in Slaney House in Wexford town has hit out at resourcing issues that have seen one senior psychiatrist, Dr Kieran Moore, resign from his position.
Margaret Brennan from Killinick spoke in front of the Oireachtas committee on the Future of Mental Health Care and described her own experiences with CAMHS in Wexford, saying it was 'at crisis point' with huge waiting lists and no resources.
She praised the staff of the unit saying they were, without exception, people of the highest quality who often went 'above and beyond' what they had to do.
'They are often there after hours and I know people who found themselves there at 6.30 p.m. on Friday evenings getting help, or receiving calls of support on Christmas Eve. The staff are brilliant but they have no resources. I know of a number of cases where kids are missing school because they are too depressed to leave the house.'
She pointed out that people needed to realise that children with mental health issues couldn't just 'cop on' or get better on their own, and the wide spectrum of issues they might be suffering from had an effect on all of the family.
Ms Brennan said that she had personally been hospitalised as a result of the stress she had experienced with her own situation.
One of the key issues she had with the service was the fact that it was not based in Wexford General Hospital where a certain amount of privacy could be afforded to patients. At present, the service is situated in Slaney House, a house opposite the hospital where space is at a premium.
'There's no privacy for kids in the waiting room, You run the risk of kids recognising each other and that heightens their anxiety. At least in the hospital there's any number of reasons why a child might be there. It's a medical service so it should be in the hospital - kids with mental health issues shouldn't be segregated.'
She also lamented the lack of any type of counselling, an issue that, again, comes down to resources. She said that in other counties kids had options like play therapy, music and art therapy, etc but not in Wexford. She said she spoke at the committee because there were 'other people in crisis' and she had felt that enough was enough. She added that watching Vicky Phelan speak about the cervical smear issue and hearing that Dr Moore had resigned also spurred her on to speak out.
Ms Brennan paid tribute also to an organisation called Hedge Schools which, she said, had proved to be a very positive influence in her own situation.
In relation to the psychiatrist's role in CAMHS Wexford she did not believe the role would be filled, despite the HSE's assurance that they were actively seeking psychiatrists to take up the position.
'Who would want to work in those conditions? Dr Moore has been asking, for 18 years, for resources and got nowhere - I don't blame him for leaving. His hands were tied and you can't stretch a human being that much.'
She added: 'There are people who are in the middle of a storm and they can't speak up. I really do feel for those parents because, as it is now, those kids have nowhere to go.'