ISPCC Welcomes Recommendations of Report on Future of Mental Health Care
The ISPCC has welcomed the publication by the Joint Oireachtas Committee on the Future of Mental Health Care of its Second Interim Report, which makes a number of significant recommendations regarding the mental health care of children and young people in Ireland.
The national child protection charity knows, from listening to those who contact its Childline service, how long delays in the provision of mental health care in Ireland can have a detrimental effect on the lives of children and young people in need of support. The ISPCC is pleased to see that the report recommends the development of a national plan to address capacity in primary care Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS).
The ISPCC has also welcomed the report’s recommendation that children aged 16 and 17 ought to be enabled to access mental health care without the permission of their parents, just as they can independently access other healthcare services. Children and young people who contact Childline sometimes outline how they are negatively impacted by difficulties in their relationships with family members, so this recommendation represents an important step towards empowering young people to seek the support they need.
The report’s recommendation that those presenting with a dual diagnosis must be included in referral pathways for mental health services across primary, secondary and tertiary care has in addition been welcomed by the ISPCC. The charity has previously highlighted complications in service provision for young people with a dual diagnosis. The report also highlights how particular difficulties can be faced by homeless people with mental health issues in accessing services in primary care.
ISPCC Director of Policy and Communications Cliodhna O’Neill said: “The ISPCC welcomes the publication of this report and its recommendations for the provision of mental health care services to children and young people. It is imperative, in particular, that a national plan is put in place to address capacity in primary care CAMHS to help ensure children experiencing mental health difficulties receive the support they need. Ireland needs a specialised and adequately-resourced 24-hour mental health support service, which is appropriate to meet the needs of patients. It is not appropriate for a child to be admitted to an adult psychiatric unit. Furthermore, a hospital emergency department is not an appropriate place for anyone experiencing a mental health difficulty – least of all a child.
“I am also pleased to see that this report addresses the mental health care issues and needs faced by minority communities in Ireland, including by Traveller, migrant and LGBT children and young people. For example, the report acknowledges the unacceptably high rates of suicide in the Traveller community and recommends that Traveller-specific services are supported and funded. The report also recommends that a specialist health unit for transgender people be established to remove unnecessary reliance on services like CAMHS for gender dysphoria diagnosis.
“The ISPCC notes the report’s extensive highlighting of over-reliance on the prescribing of medications within the mental health care services and its recommendation that this ought to be reduced, in line with the allocation of increased resources to counselling and talk therapies. Childline, Ireland’s national 24-hour listening service for children and young people as operated by the ISPCC, offers a listening ear, support and empowerment to anyone up to the age of 18 who wishes to talk about anything on their mind. Many children and young people contact Childline in relation to mental health issues and difficulties. Any child or young person in Ireland can contact Childline by calling 1800 66 66 66, texting to 50101 or chatting online at www.childline.ie.