Families for Reform of CAMHS report highlights the challenges impacting children with mental health needs

Mental Health Reform, Ireland’s leading national coalition for mental health, is today reacting with concern to a new report published by Families for Reform of CAMHS on the experiences of families with Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS)

‘Experiences of CAMHS: A Family Perspective’ draws on a national survey of 736 people, representing the experiences of children and young people across Ireland. The report will be officially launched at the Ombudsman for Children’s Office later today.

Fiona Coyle, CEO, Mental Health Reform commented: “We welcome this new report which provides powerful new insights into the challenges experienced by families and children accessing child and youth mental health services. 

The report provides further evidence of the systemic failures in our mental health system. Every child should have access to responsive and effective mental health services. Unfortunately, many children are being denied timely and appropriate care due to significant issues within CAMHS. 

Last year, the Mental Health Commission’s Independent Review of CAMHS highlighted deficiencies in the services including long delays for treatment, a lack of standardised care, and serious staffing shortages. The Government has failed to fully address these issues, leading to ongoing difficulties for families. 

We appreciate the positive steps that have been taken, including the establishment of the HSE National Youth Mental Health Office. However, underfunding continues to be a significant barrier. To effectively address these challenges, we need strong leadership, greater accountability, and prompt action.

It is extremely concerning that families had to seek private support while their children were on the waiting list for CAMHS. Parents should not have to bear the financial burden of private care to compensate for inefficiencies in the public system. The overreliance on private support reinforces a two-tier system which can result in unequal outcomes for children with mental health needs.

The lack of early intervention in the services is also deeply troubling. Almost all respondents felt their child’s mental health deteriorated during the referral process. For many of these families, A&E was the only resort when their child was in crisis.  Some families received positive support from the voluntary and community sector.  We must ensure that children receive timely intervention before their mental health challenges escalate. 

The Mental Health Commission’s Independent Review of CAMHS outlines 49 recommendations to reform CAMHS and improve the quality of services for children and young people. A key recommendation is the reinstatement of a National Lead for Mental Health in the HSE. This position is critical to provide leadership and accountability in the improvement of mental health services.

This report highlights the urgent need to reform the Mental Health Act, 2001 to strengthen oversight in CAMHS. The Act must be reformed to allow for the immediate and independent regulation of CAMHS by the Mental Health Commission. We urge the Government to publish the Mental Health Bill this summer as a matter of urgency.

The crisis in children and youth mental health services cannot be addressed without funding. The Government must increase investment in children and youth mental health services in Budget 2025. Funding must also be allocated to the voluntary and community sector which provides crucial prevention and early intervention services to children and young people.”


Join the Mental Health Reform Newsletter

Our newsletters contain updates about the work of Mental Health Reform, our campaigns, our fundraising and our Members.
You can opt out of receiving newsletters at any time by clicking the unsubscribe option in newsletters.
Mental Health Reform will not share your data with any outside agency.