Government gets E grade over adolescent mental health services

Tadhg, Cormac, Alvar and Lola at the publication of The Children's Rights Alliance  Report Cards. Picture: Naoise Culhane

The Government has failed children with mental health needs, according to the annual report card issued by the Children’s Rights Alliance which said the Government was repeatedly failing to meet its own targets.

The Report Card, which will be published today, analyses and grades various aspects of policy as it affects children.

For mental health, the 2014 report card gives the Government an ‘E’ grade, down from a ‘D’ last year, with the CRA claiming that progress on key planks of service delivery were either ‘delayed’ or ‘unsatisfactory’.

Among the issues highlighted in the report is that while the Programme for Government committed €35m annually to develop mental health teams and services as outlined in the state’s Vision for Change blueprint, Budget 2014 provided for €20m. It also said recruitment promised in 2012 and 2013 had not yet been completed and that the number of children on waiting lists for appointments had increased.

It said 68 children were admitted to adult psychiatric units last year, while inspection reports for adolescent in-patient units had indicated serious failure in providing adequate standards of care.

“This poor performance reflects the failure of government to ring-fence the previously promised €35m in Budget 2014,” it states.

The CRA said it is also based on the continued placement of children in adult psychiatric units and the serious failures in providing adequate standards of care in in-patient facilities as highlighted by the Mental Health Commission in its inspection reports.

The report card highlighted the outstanding vacancies within Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) teams, and said that as of last November clinical services had not been rolled out to children in detention schools even though Assessment, Consultation and Therapeutic Service (ACTS) teams were operating in three Special Care units.

Regarding adolescent in-patients, the report card said the 68 children admitted to adult units last year was above the HSE’s target of fewer than 50, while inspection reports for adolescent in-patient units found some teenagers were on waiting lists.

It also makes recommendations, including reversing the €15m cut in development funding for mental health services, developing a national strategy for mental health needs of those in care and detention and filling ACTS and CAMHS vacancies.

* Full report: www.childrensrights.ie

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