One-hundred and seventy children have been waiting over a year for mental health services nationally, according to the child and adolescent mental health services (CAMHS) waiting lists.
There were 2,384 children awaiting CAMHS services across Ireland at the end of August this year, with 170 of those waiting more than a year to be seen.
While the waiting list shows a slight reduction since December 2020, the latest data only represents around 78 percent of available data due to the recent cyber attack on the HSE which means waiting list data from some areas is still unavailable.
The latest waiting list figures available show that Clare, Limerick and North Tipperary have the most children waiting more than a year, with 78 waiting over 12 months for CAMHS.
In a statement, the HSE said that, as of the end of August 2021, 75.7 percent of referrals accepted by CAMHS community teams nationally were offered an appointment within 12 weeks against a target of 78 percent.
Meanwhile, 94.9 percent of young people new or re-referred cases were seen within 12 months in community CAMHS services as of August this year.
Nationally, 93.7 percent of urgent referrals to CAMHS were responded to within three working days, above the 90 percent target.
A spokesperson for the HSE said: “The cyber-attack has impacted on the ability to report in the second half of May, for June and July and to a lesser extent August as systems and email come back online post cyber-attack.
“As a result the data above is representative of 77.8 percent of data available from the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service”.
Sinn Fein TD Thomas Gould raised concerns about the fact that the data does not represent the whole picture.
“What we’re seeing here isn’t even the full picture,” he said.
Mr Gould also highlighted the need for children to receive timely access to mental health services.
“These shocking delays in assessing and treating children need to be tackled immediately because each and every day that children are not receiving treatment leads to more complex difficulties,” he said.
“Numerous mental health groups have predicted and witnessed an increased pressure on their services due to Covid.
“These shameful delays are inexcusable. The Government needs to act now,” he added.
“Early mental health intervention is key for recovery.
“It takes a lot for a family to reach out and seek mental health support. So, the least that a family should be able to expect is to get help that they need for their child when they ask for it.
“No child should be waiting over 12 months on mental health support, assessment or treatment.”