Child mental health badly understaffed

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CHILD and adolescent mental health services in Carlow are hugely understaffed. The South East region – for medical purposes, Carlow, Waterford, Wexford, Kilkenny and south Tipperary – has only 44pc of the staff required.

It shares the dubious distinction of being the region with the biggest staff shortage along with an area covering Kildare, Dublin south-west, Dublin west and Dublin south city. The figures were supplied by the HSE to Fianna Fáil spokesman on mental health James Browne ahead of a Dáil debate on mental health services.

Fianna Fáil used its private member’s motion to highlight gaps in mental health services, particularly for young people.

services in some parts of the country having fewer than half the recommended number of staff required

“Staffing levels remain a serious concern, with services in some parts of the country having fewer than half the recommended number of staff required for child and adolescent mental health services set out under A Vision for Change [a government programme],” said Mr Browne.

He said mental health facilities are in dire need of regulation, staff and an overhaul.  He spoke about “dirty”, “unfit” facilities and said in some services there are barely any specialised staff to care for children with challenges. Mr Browne called for a permanent Oireachtas Committee on Mental Health to be set up.

Responding to the motion, mental health minister Jim Daly said he wanted the Mental Health Commission to record and highlight best practices among care facilities.

“I intend to ask the Mental Health Commission to carry out an exercise in identifying areas of best practice in Approved Centres that achieve full, or high, compliance, and disseminate these examples of best practice across the system, in an effort to help Approved Centres struggling with low compliance,” he said.

Mr Daly said that the Government would not oppose the Fianna Fáil motion and would double efforts to improve standards at mental health facilities.

A national mental health policy review is due out shortly and is expected to callfor greater focus on early intervention.

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