Mental Health Commission’s CAMHS review reveals risks to children’s safety

Mental Health Reform is today reacting with concern to the Mental Health Commission’s Independent Review of the provision of Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) in the State.

The report reviews CAMHS in five of the HSE’s nine community healthcare organisations covering Kerry, Cork, Clare, Tipperary, Limerick, Dublin, Wicklow, Carlow, Kilkenny, Waterford and Kildare.

Róisín Clarke, Interim CEO, Mental Health Reform said: “This report is a damning indictment of the deepening crisis in our mental health services. Persistent failures of clinical oversight are putting children’s safety at risk. Every child who uses mental health services has the right to appropriate care and support. Due to unacceptable waiting lists and a substandard level of care, many children are being denied this right.

The Maskey report revealed that a lack of clinical governance in South Kerry CAMHS exposed children to the risk of harm. It is now clear that poor clinical governance is a national issue across the mental health system. The failure to manage risk, recruit key staff and provide standardised care is resulting in dysfunctional and unsafe mental health services for children and young people.

It is deeply alarming that some CAMHS teams are neglecting to monitor children using antipsychotic medication. Also of serious concern is the lack of follow up care for children. This has left some families without a review appointment, a prescription renewal or advice about their child’s care while on medication. These practices could have grave repercussions for a child’s physical and mental health.

The crisis in CAMHS requires a national coordinated response. The Government must prioritise the recruitment of a Youth Mental Health in the HSE as promised in Budget 2023. This post is essential to ensuring leadership in the improvement of mental health services for children and young people.

There is a fundamental need for greater accountability and oversight across the health service. We are calling for the reinstatement of a National Director for Mental Health in the HSE who would report directly to the CEO of the HSE. There has been no National Director for Mental Health since 2016, despite the current Programme for Government containing a commitment to reinstate the position.

This review highlights once more the need to reform the Mental Health Act, 2001 to ensure that children’s rights are adequately protected when they access mental health services. Due to gaps in the legislation, the existing Act is significantly out of line with international human rights standards. The Mental Health (Amendment) Bill must be progressed this year as a matter of urgency.

Children should be able to rely on our mental health services in their hour of need. We must do all we can to restore trust in the mental health system and ensure that families and children receive the high standard of care they deserve.”

For additional supports please call the HSE YourMentalHealth Information Line on freephone 1800 111 888, any time day or night.

You can also view our member organisations for further assistance. 


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