There has been a 35% reduction in the number of children waiting for mental health services in Cork and Kerry this year.
Some 632 children were on the waiting list for Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services (CAMHS) at the end of January. By the end of June, this had reduced to 411.
Waiting lists for CAMHS in Cork declined by 40% in that period, with those in Kerry declining by 15%. The North Kerry area was the only area in the two counties where waiting lists increased since the start of the year.
All eight catchment areas in Cork saw waiting lists drop in the last six months, with waiting lists in North Lee North and North Cork dropping below 100 for the first time in months. North Lee East has a waiting list of four.
Cork also witnessed a significant reduction in the number of children waiting more than 12 months for CAMHS. In January, 91 children had been waiting over a year for mental health services in the region. At the end of June, it was 55.
Dr Sinead O'Brien, executive clinical director for Cork mental health services, said CAMHS continued to operate throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, which helped reduce waiting lists.
She said they hope to see further reduction in the coming months, aided by the use of additional technology and full staffing across the region.
While technology won't replace face-to-face meetings, it "provides another option to patients", she said.
While referrals to CAMHS decreased at the start of the pandemic, Dr O’Brien said that quickly changed and services are now experiencing increased demand.
“CAMHS has experienced the same trend as the adult services in that demand has now gone up once again," she said.
“Children had huge changes in their lives with schools being out and parents also had to deal with huge changes in terms of taking off work to care for children. These changes can impact on children’s stress and they’ve lost out on a lot of routine in their lives as well."